Anyone who’s had a baby knows that it is simultaneously one of the most rewarding and the most challenging of life’s experiences. The learning curve alone is absolutely enormous, and a huge part of it takes place when you’re impressively sleep deprived. For the first while, you’re responsible for everything when it comes to caring for your little one, including their oral hygiene. So when should you start on that?
Never Too Young
The simple answer is to start right away. Yes, before they even have teeth. Cleaning your baby’s gums after they eat helps prevent and reduce the risk of them developing cavities. Plus, it helps build good habits right from the start. Now, just because you know you should be getting started with oral hygiene before they have teeth doesn’t mean you should be pulling out your toothpaste and a full size toothbrush and going to town on your baby’s gums. Save the toothbrush for when they actually have at least one tooth.
Things to Do
When it comes to oral hygiene for babies, it’s a good idea to start simple by taking a clean, wet washcloth and wiping down their mouth after feeding them. This helps remove any debris from their meal that could promote bacteria growth while also getting them used to the idea of something getting in their mouth and cleaning it. Once your baby has a tooth, use a soft-bristled baby toothbrush to gently brush their teeth with water. Save the toothpaste until they’re about 2 years old. Check their teeth regularly for any discoloration that could indicate a developing cavity.
Making It Fun
Not all children like having their teeth brushed or gums wiped. In fact, some downright hate it. Resist the temptation to just let it go though. Your child is relying on you to help them take care of their teeth. Instead, find ways to make it fun. Make funny faces, sing songs, and even make a game out of it. The more fun you can make it, the more they’ll enjoy it and look forward to the process.
Starting oral hygiene practices with your baby is best done well before their first tooth erupts. Don’t just help them with their oral care though. Let your child see you brush your teeth too. Babies and children tend to mimic what they see their parents do, so take advantage of that and show them what it means to take good care of your teeth.
Visiting a dentist early on can make a huge difference in how healthy your baby’s teeth are. Take a look at what you can expect on Your Child’s First Visit to the dentist so you’ll be prepared for the experience.