Oral health is very important to your child’s overall wellness which is why Sound Family Medicine providers have partnered with Light Dental Studios to put the mouth back in family medicine care. Check out the guide below for what you need to know now to help your child begin a healthy oral health routine.
Your Baby’s Oral Health
Baby teeth are important for chewing, smiling, talking, jaw development and self- esteem. Good oral health habits begin with parents. Did you know that germs that cause cavities easily spread from parents to babies? Don’t share utensils and food that have been in your own mouth with your baby.
Parents are a role model for children which is why it’s even more important that you visit your dentist for regular checkups and keep your own teeth healthy.
Taking Care of Your Baby’s Mouth
Don’t be afraid to look inside your baby’s mouth. Checking for white, brown or black spots on teeth is a healthy daily habit to form. Use a moist cloth or small, soft toothbrush to wipe your baby’s teeth and gums after breakfast and before bed each day. You can begin brushing with a smear of fluoride toothpaste after the first tooth comes in. “Finish brushing” for your child until age 8. It takes the same manual dexterity to effectively brush your teeth as it does to write in cursive.
In certain cases, children may benefit from early orthodontic treatment while they are still growing and developing. Ask your dentist if you have any concerns about how your child’s mouth is growing and changing.
Eating and Drinking
To help prevent against cavities, don’t let your baby sleep with a bottle containing anything but water. In fact, we suggest that you avoid frequent use of a “sippy cup” or bottle that contains anything but water. Limiting juice to no more than 4-6oz a day is also recommended. Frequently exposing your baby’s teeth to sugar will cause cavities so offer water only except at mealtime. Plan on weaning your baby from the bottle and “sippy cup” by their first birthday.
When selecting a cup for your baby, choose one without a “no-spill valve”. No-spill valves cause baby to continue sucking, preventing them from learning to sip. As an alternative, try a snap-on or screw-on lid which can reduce spills and still allow baby to sip. A cup with 2 handles can also be easier for baby to hold and a cup with a weighted base prevents the cup from tipping over.
Healthy snack choices also benefit your child’s oral health. Choose fresh fruits, vegetables, cheese and cold cut meats. Avoid snacking on refined carbohydrates such as cookies and crackers and sticky sugary foods such as dried fruits and fruit snacks.
Discomfort and fussiness is normal during teething. Erupting teeth may cause “eruption cysts” which look like blood blisters on the gum. They will often get larger, then smaller, usually healing on their own. To provide your baby some relief during teething, we suggest:
- Children’s Tylenol can be given to the baby every 6 hours to relieve pain
- Offer a cold, firm, safe teething object
- Teething rings or chilled washcloth
Only children who are at high risk for cavities and consume non-fluoridated water need fluoride supplements. Before supplements are prescribed, a dentist will evaluate the fluoride needs of each patient. If you use powdered baby formula, it is recommended that you mix it with non- fluoridated water. For children under 2 years, a “smear” of fluoridated toothpaste is all that is needed.
Accidents involving the mouth and teeth are very common in young children especially those who participate in sports. A mouth guard could help protect your child’s teeth. If a baby tooth is knocked out, do not put it back in your child’s mouth as it could be a choking hazard. If your child loses an adult or permanent tooth, put it back in their mouth immediately and call your dentist. If you’re not able to put the tooth in your child’s mouth, put it in a glass of cold milk.
Thumb and finger sucking can impact the way your child’s mouth develops. Help your child to stop these habits by age 3. If habits continue, ask your provider or dentist for alternative solutions.
Goals to Keep Baby’s Mouth Healthy
- Brush teeth with fluoride toothpaste at least twice a day. We love this brushing chart.
- No sleeping with a bottle
- Only water or milk in sippy cups
- No juice, soda, or sports drinks
- Drink tap water
- Eat healthy foods
- Limit candy and junk food
- Parents can chew gum with xylitol to help reduce the transfer of cavity causing germs
- The last thing to touch baby’s teeth before bed should be the toothbrush
When Will Baby’s Teeth Come In?
The chart below is a great guideline for when to expect those pearly whites to make their entrance.
This information was provided by our partners at Light Dental Studios.