Now that your baby’s teeth are on their way in, it’s time to start taking care of them. Even though this set will only be around for a short time, their health is essential to your baby’s gums and those future permanent teeth. Make sure your baby’s new teeth get the best care. Here are some practical tips.
Start Before Baby’s Teeth Come In
Start cleaning your child’s mouth even before her teeth come in. Wipe the gums off after each feeding with a warm, wet washcloth or a dampened piece of gauze wrapped around your finger. You can also buy thimble-like, soft rubbery devices (they fit over your index finger) to use for rubbing off excess food.
Once the teeth begin coming in, start taking care of them right away. Many parents think baby teeth aren’t important because they’re eventually replaced by permanent ones. But these first teeth preserve the spacing for the permanent ones and help Baby chew and talk. If they’re not cared for properly they can decay, leading to a gum infection called gingivitis, which can affect the spacing of permanent teeth.
The first signs of cavities in baby teeth are discoloration and minor pitting. Putting Baby to bed with a bottle of milk (or worse, juice) is notorious for causing cavities. Don’t leave your infant with a bottle for long periods of time, especially if you notice he’s no longer feeding and is just using the bottle for comfort.
Once Baby’s teeth have grown in, it’s time to start brushing! Use a small smear of fluoride toothpaste (about the size of a grain of rice) and brush those chops twice a day.
Even though your baby isn’t using a fluoride toothpaste, he should get enough fluoride — important for preventing tooth decay — from drinking tap water. Most communal water supplies have it added just for this beneficial purpose.
Ask your doctor about fluoride supplements Baby can take once he’s 6 months old if your tap water is not fluoridated or your child doesn’t drink any tap water.