While your baby’s first tooth might not arrive until they’re at least 6 months old, you need to be caring for their gums even earlier than that to ensure they have a healthy smile in the future. Your child’s baby teeth are important not only for helping them eat solid foods and learning how to talk, but their baby teeth also act as placeholders for their adult teeth.
Removing a baby tooth due to decay can cause the remaining teeth to shift toward that vacancy. This means there’s no natural spot left for the adult tooth when it tries to come in, which can leave the child in pain and create a crooked and misaligned smile as the adult teeth force the surrounding teeth into unnatural positions.
Dr. Maryam Sina and her associates here at Dentistry for Children have seen the devastating results that dental decay can create, but these issues can be prevented by starting a good dental hygiene routine as soon as your baby is born.
Here are the simple ways you can care for your baby’s gums today and ensure they’re not affected by dental decay in the future.
Keep your baby’s gums clean
You don’t need to brush your baby’s gums before any teeth appear; actually, doing so can damage their gums because they’re quite sensitive at this stage. All you need to do is wipe your baby’s gums with a clean and damp washcloth that’s wrapped around your finger to remove any debris that may accumulate, such as milk that settles on the gums.
The best time to clean your baby’s gums is directly after feeding and before you put them down for a nap.
Make sure your baby is getting enough fluoride
Most toothpaste has fluoride to strengthen your child’s teeth as they grow and develop, but according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children younger than 2 years old should use only a smear of toothpaste, which might not contain as much fluoride as they should be getting.
Check your water supply to see if fluoride is added. If it is, make sure your baby is drinking enough tap water to benefit from the mineral right away. If your baby doesn’t like tap water or your supplier doesn’t add fluoride, ask Dr. Sina about supplemental fluoride.
Limit sugary foods and drinks
Sugar is a major cause of dental decay, and “baby bottle rot” can be a serious risk for young children. Baby bottle decay develops when sweetened drinks (or those that contain natural sugars like milk and fruit juice) cling to the gums. This creates the perfect breeding ground for bacteria, so when those first teeth break through, they’re immediately at risk of dental cavities.
The best way to prevent baby bottle decay is to avoid giving your baby sugary foods and beverages, and to never put your baby to bed with a bottle. You shouldn’t share utensils or food with your baby, either; the sugars found in your saliva may enter your child’s mouth and attack the gums that way.
Schedule your baby’s first dental exam
It’s always better to prevent a problem for your baby than to have to cure one, of course, so schedule your baby’s first dental visit when their first tooth breaks through, or by their first birthday, whichever comes first.
When you come to us at Dentistry for Children, Dr. Sina examines your child’s mouth, gums, and teeth to check on progress and potential issues. This is all carried out in a comfortable and relaxed environment that your child will enjoy revisiting time after time.
Call us today or send us a message here on our website to book your baby’s dental exam at Dentistry for Children at either our Las Vegas or Henderson, Nevada, location.