Give your kids a healthy start for lifelong dental wellness right from day one — starting with oral care for newborns. September is National Gum Care Month and Castle Creek Pediatric Dentistry is sharing some helpful tips on a topic that your pediatrician may not cover in well-baby visits: tooth care for infants.
Why Does My Baby Need Tooth Care When They Don’t Have Teeth?
We understand it can seem silly to prescribe a dental regimen for a baby still flashing a delightfully gummy smile. However, those adorable newborn gums still harbor bacteria from all the things babies love to put in their mouths. Gums are always vulnerable to infection — especially sensitive gums with erupting primary teeth. That is why it is important to start infant oral care before teeth come in.
Once your child has their first tooth, it becomes even more important to protect your baby’s gums. Babies are not immune to tooth decay or infection and those tiny baby teeth do matter, even if they will eventually lose them. Primary teeth hold space for new teeth while a child is growing. They also help your child with chewing and swallowing and receiving critical vitamins and nutrients that are important to their development.
It is also important to start infant oral care early in order to build healthy mouth habits. Regular newborn mouth cleaning helps your child get used to a daily gum care regimen, as well as caring for their mouth, teeth, and tongue. In short, oral hygiene for newborns will go a long way toward helping you brush your stubborn 2-year-old’s teeth or keeping your tween on track later on.
Tips for Infant Dental Care
Now that you know the importance of infant dental care, we’ve got some tips for getting started with oral hygiene for newborn babies and young babies with new teeth.
Clean Infant Gums Daily
You do not need a specialized infant gum cleaner to care for newborn gums. You can use a damp baby washcloth. Wash your hands with soap and water so you don’t add new bacteria as you’re trying to remove them. Use the clean, damp washcloth to wipe the inside of your baby’s cheeks. Wipe down the gums, being gentle and taking care not to obstruct the baby’s airway.
- Do not use a toothbrush for cleaning newborn gums. A washcloth will work just fine.
- Do not use a material that can break off and get caught in your baby’s airway such as napkins or paper towels.
- Do not use toothpaste. Toothpaste, even toothpaste designed for younger children, contains substances that can be harmful to infants.
Clean Bottles, Pacifiers, Teethers, and Toys
Newborn gum care also includes reducing opportunities for your baby’s gums to come into contact with harmful bacteria. We know that’s easier said than done. You can try to best your baby’s efforts to put everything in their mouth or you can try to keep their favorite objects as clean as possible. Sanitize feeding tools like bottles, as well as comfort objects, pacifiers, and toys.
Oral Care for Newborns When They Get Their First Tooth
When your little one gets their first tooth (or 3 teeth at once), it’s time to switch gears in your newborn oral care plan — cleaning those brand-new primary teeth. Now is the time for that tiny toothbrush to come into play, along with a tiny dot of toothpaste designed for babies.
The first tooth typically comes in at around six months of age. If your child starts teething sooner or is born with teeth, consult your physician and your pediatric dentist about how to clean your child’s teeth. Don’t forget to continue cleaning your baby’s mouth, gums, and tongue, as well.
Visit a Pediatric Dentist
Stanford Medicine’s Children’s Health recommends that babies have their first dental visit by the time they are one year old or within 6 months of the appearance of their first tooth. A pediatric dentist can assess your child’s oral health, examine their airway health, and begin a lifelong profile of their overall oral wellness.
Your baby’s first dental visit is a fantastic opportunity to ask questions about how to clean newborn mouths or how to clean newborn gums. Your pediatric dentist is experienced in treating infants’ teeth and can help you detect and treat potential problems before they become damaging.
Get Started with an Oral Hygiene Plan for Your Infant!
Whether you are expecting, planning, or already parenting, Castle Creek Pediatric Dentistry would love to help your baby have the healthiest start possible. Give us a call today to learn more about our options for infant dental care.