How to Take Care of Your Baby’s Teeth and Gums
Every parent should make their baby’s oral health a priority. Especially if you are a first-time parent, you will probably be overwhelmed with too many recommendations. It can be confusing!
Clueless about what to do? We are here to extend a helping hand. Read on as we share some insights on how to promote proper dental hygiene to ensure healthy teeth and gums for your little one.
8 Tips and Tricks for Healthy Teeth and Gums in Babies
From developing motor skills to building healthy sleeping habits, you have a lot of things to be mindful of when raising a baby. In this guide, however, our focus is on promoting the best dental health, which is possible by doing the things we’ll talk about below.
1. Clean your baby's gums
Having no teeth does not mean that you should skip cleaning the mouth of your baby. Since they are young, they have limited saliva production. Hence, there is a higher possibility of bacteria build-up in the mouth because of dryness.
For the best oral health, we recommend cleaning your infant's gums twice a day. Wrap a soft cloth or face towel on your finger. Dip it in water. It should be damp but not soaking wet. Put it in your baby's mouth and gently wipe their gums.
Photo credit: Daniel Thomas
2. Provide Sensory Toys
Teething is a painful experience for babies. It can start as early as six months. This can disrupt their sleeping patterns. Not to mention, it will also make their gums tender and swollen.
The best sensory toys will help stimulate the senses. Such toys are useful for improving social, communication, and emotional skills. More so, there are also sensory toys that can alleviate discomfort when teething. Those that are made of silicone and rubber can soothe aching gums. Many of these toys have interesting designs and textures while making various sounds, making them must-haves for sensory development. Silicone toys such as the Jellystone Teether Stacker can be washed clean in soapy water and can even be put in the fridge so they are nice and cool on sore gums.
Photo credit: Rach Conlan
3. Visit a Dentist Early
Taking care of your baby’s teeth and gums is possible with a regular dental visit. During such, the dentist will not only perform a routine check-up but can also provide recommendations on what to do to promote stronger teeth and minimize cavities.
According to the Australian Dental Association, the first dental visit should be upon the eruption of the first tooth or on the 12th month of the baby, whichever comes first. By visiting early, it is easier to eliminate dental fear and anxiety while building a healthy routine that kids can pick up as they grow older.
4. Plan a Healthy Diet
Meal planning is crucial for raising healthy babies. Even for their oral health, the food they consume has a huge influence. As a rule, avoid foods with artificial sugar as they can speed up tooth decay. Those that are too acidic can also be the culprit for dental health problems.
Good oral care includes mindful feeding. Fruits and vegetables should be on the top of the list. Nonetheless, try to avoid those with high acidity as they can erode the enamel. Avoid fruit juices and others that are high in sugar. For babies, stick with breastmilk.
5. Brush the Right Way
As soon as their first tooth appears, regular brushing must be a part of the daily routine. Like adults, brush their teeth twice a day or after feeding. Use a small toothbrush with soft bristles, which will be gentle on the teeth and gums. The toothpaste should be as small as the size of a rice grain and should be labelled as age appropriate.
Choosing the right toothpaste is a crucial consideration. Look for one that is formulated with the needs of tiny tots in mind. They should be free of potentially toxic ingredients, including sulphates, parabens, and alcohol.
Positioning the baby properly is also vital. You can sit on the floor while the baby lies down. With the head on your lap, it is easier to brush their teeth. Cup the chin with your hand while the baby rests on your body. Brush in soft and circular motions.
6. Beware of Saliva Swapping
Some parents think that swapping saliva is a sign of love. It might seem harmless, but it can be risky. Among others, one of the dangers of saliva swapping is that it can transfer bacteria to the little ones, which can be bad for their teeth and gums.
One of the most common instances where you can swap saliva with a baby is when using a pacifier. Never use your mouth to clean a dummy. It can transfer Streptococcus mutans, which can cause dental cavities. Such can also be transferred through sharing utensils or kissing mouth-to-mouth.
7. Avoid Baby Bottle Tooth Decay
Your baby’s oral health is in danger if you leave a baby bottle in the mouth for a long time, especially when sleeping. Doing this will let the milk pool around the mouth. Usually, this affects the upper front teeth; however, in other instances, this habit can also damage other teeth.
The easiest way to prevent this is to avoid leaving the baby bottle for a prolonged period, especially during the times when the mouth is inactive. Also, do not fill it with drinks that contain sugar such a fruit juices. as this can speed up tooth decay.
8. Use Dummies with Caution
In most cases, dummies are safe for babies. Nonetheless, as they grow older, you should focus on weaning. Ideally, they should stop using a dummy at the age of two or three. Prolonged use can cause problems in their teeth alignment.
It is often a common practice for some parents to dip the pacifier in sugar water or anything sweet. This can make it more appealing to the little ones. However doing so will introduce one of the common culprits of tooth decay in the mouth of babies – sugar.
Photo Credit: Sharon McCutcheon
From providing sensory toys to ease teething pain, to having a healthy diet, we have talked about some of the most important things for healthy teeth and gums in babies. As parents, it's our responsibility to introduce the right dental routine early on as it will increase the chances that our kids will learn healthy tooth brushing and dental habits later in life.
This guest post article was written by Chelsea Smith. Chelsea is a content creator who writes about a variety of topics, especially around dental health. She has been promoting proper dental care through her work and urges everyone to visit their dentists regularly.
Title Photo credit: Grace and Maggie Playmats