You welcome your newborn into the world with no teeth. After about 6 months the baby teeth start to come in. How do you take care of them?
According to Web MD, “Baby teeth may be small, but they’re important. They act as placeholders for adult teeth. Without a healthy set of baby teeth, your child will have trouble chewing and speaking clearly. That’s why caring for baby teeth and keeping them decay-free is so important.”
Further, “You can start caring for your baby’s gums right away. But at first, the care won’t involve a toothbrush and toothpaste. Instead, take these steps:
Get a soft, moistened washcloth or piece of gauze.
Gently wipe down your baby’s gums at least twice a day.
Especially wipe your baby’s gums after feedings and before bedtime.
This will wash off bacteria and prevent it from clinging to your baby’s gums. Bacteria can leave behind a sticky plaque that damages infant teeth as they erupt.
The next step is to look out for decay. According to an article from Parents Magazine, “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 baby is no longer feeding and is just using the bottle for comfort.
Parents Magazine then recommends “Most infant foods easily wash off Baby’s teeth with just a drink of water after meals. But it’s good to introduce a toothbrush (choose a very soft one) as soon as possible, so baby can get used to having it in his mouth. You probably won’t need to use the brush to actually clean Baby’s teeth until he’s eating only table foods (and has a significant number of teeth), at around 18 months. However, you’ll want to gently clean your child’s teeth with a toothbrush or thimble-like cleaner and some bicarbonate of soda if your toddler has eaten sticky, sugary foods.
Brushing can start around 2 years old. Use a non-fluoride toothpaste since there is enough fluoride for baby in the drinking water.
As long as you are looking in the baby’s mouth and not seeing anything brown or black (this could be decay and a dentist should be visited immediately), visiting the dentist between 3 and 4 is what’s recommended. I like the child to come in with a parent while she (is usually mom) has her teeth cleaned so that the child can see that mom has her teeth cleaned. The following time the child can have their first cleaning “just like mom”and this can make the experience easier.