LITTLE FOODIE CLUB TOP 5: TIPS ON CARING FOR YOUR BABY'S TEETH
If you want to make sure your baby’s toothless smile turns into a pearly white one, it’s a good idea to get him or her used to an oral-hygiene routine as soon as possible – even before any teeth erupt.
Here are some top tips on how to look after baby’s teeth.
CARING FOR BABY'S GUMS
Just because you can't see any teeth doesn't mean they’re not there. Teeth actually begin to form during the second trimester of pregnancy and by the time your baby is born, 20 baby teeth will have developed. It might be a while before these teeth start to pop but you can start caring for baby's gums right from the get go. Initially, you won’t need a toothbrush or toothpaste. Take a soft, moistened washcloth or piece of gauze; gently wipe down your baby's gums least twice a day, after feedings and before bedtime. This will clean away bacteria and prevent them from damaging baby teeth as they start to break through.
SOOTHING TEETHING PAINS
Teething can be tough for some babies as the process of a tooth breaking through his or her little gums can be uncomfortable and sometimes even painful. Next to fussiness, teething symptoms can include drooling, swollen and sensitive gums. We have a guide to teething you may want to read but the main solutions to relieve baby’s teething discomfort are: teething toys; frozen baby foods in a mesh feeder; or massaging your baby’s gums with a clean finger.
BRUSHING BABY'S TEETH
As soon as the first baby teeth start to appear, you can graduate to an infant toothbrush. There are plenty of options but it’s important to choose a brush that is very soft and with no more than three rows of bristles. Throw out any toothbrushes older three months and those that have become rough at the edges. You can start using a tiny bit of toothpaste right away. Gently brush all around your baby’s mouth. And around your baby’s first birthday, visit a pediatric dentist for an exam.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT TOOTHPASTE
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends using cavity-preventing fluoride toothpaste right from the start rather than waiting until age 2 as was previously recommended. Even though babies can’t spit yet, experts insist that they should still be getting the topical effect of fluoride on their teeth. Use no more than a rice-grain-sized dollop of toothpaste for your baby - such a small quantity won't cause any damage if swallowed.
As well as caring for your baby’s first teeth, you need to protect them. To prevent cavities, only fill your baby's bottle with breast milk, formula or water. Avoid giving your baby fruit juices, sodas, and other sugary drinks as these can lead to baby tooth decay. There’s even a term for this called "baby bottle tooth decay." Bacteria feed on the sugar from sweet drinks and produce acid, which attacks baby's teeth. If you have to send your baby to bed or naps with a bottle or sippy cup, fill it with water only. Also never put anything sweet - such as sugar or honey - on your baby's pacifier.