INFANT ORAL CARE
While most babies don’t start getting teeth until they are six months old, infant dental care is important from the very beginning. Many dentists recommend an initial visit before the child’s first birthday to make sure teeth and gums are cared for and cleaned properly.
It is a good idea to get in the habit of cleaning your baby’s gums soon after birth. Although there may be a little fussing at first, your infant will get used to having the mouth cleaned like other parts of the body. Many children grow to enjoy tooth brushing as part of their daily routine.
During your baby’s first year, there are a few conditions to be aware of, including:
Choose a pacifier that:
- Is one piece rather than several parts.
- Has ventilating holes on the sides.
- Is large enough so that your child can’t swallow it.
Is made of a flexible, nontoxic material.
- Has a handle that is easy to grasp.
- Always check the pacifier before giving it to your child. Make sure there are no rips or tears. If there are, replace it. Never dip a pacifier in honey or any other sweet substance before giving it to your baby.
Tips to clean your baby’s mouth:
- Lay your infant in your lap. The head should be close to your chest so you can look down directly into your child’s mouth.
- Clean the gums and the teeth by rubbing a clean, damp, wash cloth along the baby’s upper and lower gums. You can also use terrycloth finger cots, which fit over the finger and are made for this purpose.
- Follow these steps at least twice a day — once after breakfast, and once after the last feeding of the day.
- When the teeth begin to erupt, start brushing them at least two to three times a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush and water. Toothpaste is not recommended until a child reaches age two. At that time, supervise brushing to ensure that your child does not swallow any toothpaste.