Most parents are concerned about their baby’s dental hygiene but just don’t know when to start. Unknown to many, oral care for babies should start the moment they are born. Yes, even without the teeth coming out yet like in recently born babies. Know ahead that the newborn babies still have their teeth under the gums so you should not worry of cavities. What you should be concerned about, however, is the fungal infection called trush. Caused by the fungus Candida or yeast, trush starts from a tear in the mouth and develops as white patches that coat the tongue, the insides of the cheeks, and the gums.
You will not need complicated mouth cleaning tools for your newborn as soft, clean washcloth will do. You will not need baby toothpaste, either. First, sit down holding baby close with his head near your chest. Wrap a warm and damp washcloth around your index finger and slowly place it inside your baby’s mouth. Then firmly, but gently, wipe the gums with the washcloth. Do this in the morning and at night-time.
On the teething stage, however, things will get more daunting. Usually, a baby’s first set of teeth appears at six to seven months old. Teething is always a difficult stage for babies because it is oftentimes painful. Babies become irritable and uninterested in feeding. Because of these, they become more susceptible to sickness such as fever, colds, and coughs. There may also be episodes of diarrhea.
Other than these uncomfortable symptoms, teething signals the start of your bout against early tooth decay. Known medically as early childhood cavities (ECC), tooth decay may be caused by sugar in the baby’s diet. This typically is the case as the baby is introduced to more types of solid and liquid food. Milk, especially formula milk, is also to blame. In fact, it is common to see bottle drinkers having early dental caries. It is also a possibility of transferring bacteria from adult to child through sharing food or eating utensils.
To prevent the early onset of tooth decay, start by brushing your baby’s teeth with a special silicone finger toothbrush. Think of this as an upgrade of the washcloth you used on his gums a few months back. This finger toothbrush is non-toxic and can also be used to massage baby’s gums during this painful teething stage. Still no toothpaste needed, though. Dipping the finger toothbrush in warm water before brushing the teeth will do.
On you baby’s first birthday, it will also be the perfect time to introduce him to pediatric dentists who specialize in early oral health. These doctors are also more gentle and friendlier and have a lot of tools and props to take the fear of dentists away from your child. The pediatric dentist will be the person to ask about brushing and flossing for your small child. He will also be the one to examine and refer to other special dentists such as an orthodontist or an oral surgeon. Brushing with baby toothpaste is usually recommended for kids ages two and up but with parental supervision. Ask your pediatric dentist when it’s safe to use fluoride toothpaste.
As your baby grows, it would be best to bring him to his dentist for check-ups once every six months.