Photo by Alexey Makhinko
Did you know it is possible for a baby to develop cavities even before their first tooth has grown through? When a baby is born, they have a set of 20 teeth sitting just below their gums. Their teeth are vulnerable to cavities, despite being hidden from parental sight.
Poor oral hygiene in a baby’s first few months can have a detrimental impact on their dental health. It is vitally important to develop good oral hygiene for your baby as soon as they are born.
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Are Babies at Risk of Decay?
Despite having visible teeth, a baby has a very real risk of tooth decay.
Some parents may think that a baby’s teeth form months after birth, but this is not the case. A baby is born with its initial full set of teeth hidden inside of its gumline.
Oral Hygiene for Babies Aged 0 – 6 Months
It is important to develop good oral hygiene techniques for your baby as soon as they are welcomed into the world.
Each time you have finished feeding your baby, take a damp washcloth and rub your baby’s gums. Make sure that the washcloth is clean, of course! This will remove any trace of milk from the gums and keep your baby’s oral hygiene in top condition.
Cleaning your baby’s gums will also ensure that your baby is prepared for using a toothbrush later in their life. Being used to feeling the sensation on their gums, they may be less likely to reject toothbrushing in the future.
Here are expert tips for maintaining good oral hygiene for babies aged 0 – 6 months:
- Use a damp washcloth to clean the gums after each feed.
- Never leave a bottle in a baby’s mouth for long periods.
- Never let your baby sleep with a bottle in their mouth.
- Parents should never put a baby’s bottle or pacifier in their mouth as dental decay bacteria can spread through saliva.
Oral Hygiene for Babies Aged 6 – 12 Months
A baby may experience their first tooth once they have passed the 6 months old stage. As well as maintaining good gum health with a damp washcloth, you must now also look after their first tooth.
Take a damp, soft-bristled toothbrush and gently massage the new tooth. It is important to NOT use toothpaste at this stage, however. You could also try massaging your baby’s gums with the toothbrush, although ensure to be very gentle.
Here are expert tips for maintaining good oral hygiene for babies aged 6 – 12 months:
- Use a damp, soft-bristled toothbrush and gently massage your baby’s first tooth regularly.
- As soon as the first tooth appears, start to reduce how often your baby has a bottle.
- Begin the switch to weaning and promote the use of a sippy cup.
- Look at your baby’s teeth regularly to spot any white or brown decay markings.
- Book your baby’s first dental appointment!
Oral Hygiene for Babies Aged 12 – 18 Months
Once your baby has had their first birthday, they may have at least 4 teeth. These teeth will be positioned at the front of their mouth. Your baby should have had their first dental appointment by this date.
You should now begin brushing your baby’s teeth at least twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush. It is recommended that you do not use toothpaste, however.
Here are expert tips for maintaining good oral hygiene for babies aged 12 – 18 months:
- Make sure your baby has had their first dental appointment.
- Brush your baby’s teeth at least twice a day.
- Use a soft-bristled toothbrush.
- Do NOT use toothpaste.
- Never share drinks with your baby as you may transfer bacteria through saliva.
- Regularly look at your baby’s teeth to spot decay in the form of brown or white spots.
- If any signs of decay appear, visit your dentist as soon as possible.
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