Having a baby is an exciting life event, yet in most cases, this exhilarating time comes with lots of unanswered questions. Taking care of a newborn is challenging enough, so we want to provide you with some easy answers for the questions you haven’t even thought about yet, regarding baby dental care. It’s easy to skip over caring for our baby’s oral health when they haven’t even started teething. However, it’s never too early to start implementing good dental hygiene. Dr. Kimmy thrives on educating new parents about the importance of proper dental hygiene in babies and children. She provides outstanding pediatric dental care in Manhasset for parents who need clear answers those mind-boggling questions.
We would love the opportunity to provide you with tips and instructions on caring for your new baby’s unique dental needs. Call our Manhasset, NY office today to schedule an appointment with pediatric dentist, Dr. Kimmy. Call 516-365-4-KID.
Here are our five favorite tips for new moms about baby dental care:
Don’t be Afraid to Clean Your Baby’s Mouth
Upon birth, your baby will be born with a completely sterile oral cavity. This means that his or her mouth will be free of any bacteria, but that won’t last for long. Our mouths are warm, dark, and moist, which is the ideal environment for bacteria to flourish. Babies aren’t born with the bacteria Streptococcus Mutans, which is the primary culprit in the development of cavities. Rather, they usually contract these bacteria from their mothers through the transfer of saliva. Therefore when you kiss your baby directly on the mouth or share a bite of your food, they will likely develop this bacterium.
Now, don’t let this scare you. This bacterium is not harmful to your child, however it does reinforce the significance of starting oral care as early as possible. To care for your baby’s mouth, dampen a washcloth and gently glide it across your child’s gums. This technique will remove some of the plaque and bacteria hiding in your baby’s mouth. Sterile gauze is another excellent tool for cleaning the gums of plaque and bacteria, and can also be used to “brush” the first teeth as they come in.
No Bedtime Bottles
As your child gets old enough to hold his own bottle, you may be tempted to put him to bed with a bottle of milk. Although it may be comforting to your child to have a bottle with him throughout the night, anything other than water at bedtime can contribute to cavities. This is such a common cause of tooth decay that it has its own name: baby bottle decay.
Just as it is with adults, letting a sugary substance stew in the mouth overnight is a recipe for growing the bacteria that cause cavities. The primary reason why this isn’t as much of a concern during the day is because we naturally produce saliva, which neutralizes the acids, produced by bacteria—the substance that demineralizes enamel. Ordinarily that saliva gives us a natural defense against bacteria and rinses it off the teeth. At night, however, saliva production decreases and bacteria absolutely thrive. (That’s why we all get “morning breath.”)
Just as you wouldn’t drink sugary beverages just before bed, you don’t want your baby to consume milk as he is falling asleep, or throughout the night. If you choose to offer a bottle of milk at bedtime, be sure your infant finishes it before he falls asleep, while the mouth is still producing saliva, or remove the bottle from the crib if it remains unfinished. Better yet, stick to water at bedtime!
Be Ready for Thrush
Thrush is the build-up of yeast in your baby’s mouth, which appears as white spots inside the mouth. It’s a very common condition in infants, but can also be caused by exposure to antibiotics. Most pediatricians only prescribe antibiotics to infants if they are unquestionably necessary for your child’s health, but they can also be passed to your baby through breast milk. Antibiotics work within your body to fight off bacteria, but in turn, they also fight off the bacterium that regulates the yeast within our bodies. If your baby develops thrush, contact your pediatrician, as it is easy to treat with the help of an oral anti-fungal medication.
How to Brush Your Baby’s Teeth
Before your baby develops any baby teeth, it’s important to wipe his or her mouth with a damp, clean washcloth or sterile gauze once a day, to remove bacteria from your baby’s mouth. After the eruption of the first tooth, buy an appropriately sized toothbrush for your baby. Wet the brush with water and softly gliding over the gums and any teeth. There are also several non-fluoridated toothpastes available that are designed specifically for infants, so feel free to add a tiny dab to the routine if it helps make your child more cooperative. Don’t forget to schedule your first dental appointment with Dr. Kimmy shortly after your child’s first tooth erupts.
Visit Dr. Kimmy!
The best time to schedule your baby’s first dental appointment is when you first see baby teeth cutting through the gums. If this doesn’t happen before the first birthday, then go ahead and schedule an appointment around that time. Dr. Kimmy creates a safe and comfortable environment for your child during this first appointment, often referred to as the Happy Visit.
We will have a quick peek inside the mouth to make sure everything is coming along nicely, and, more importantly, just have a nice visit with your infant. Establishing Dr. Kimmy’s office as a happy place where good things happen can be a critical step in preventing dental anxiety in children, so we always like to start these happy visits at a young age.Leave a reply →