When we think of keeping babies healthy, we think about feeding them nutritious foods, keeping them clean, and protecting them from situations that could lead to physical harm. This might also include scheduling vaccinations and regular check-ups at the doctor.
But we often overlook one very important factor that plays a giant role in the health of all human beings – healthy teeth and gums.
Many parents are under the impression that they don’t need to worry about their child’s teeth and gums until teeth actually appear. The truth is, there are steps we should be taking babies from the time they are born to ensure they have healthy gums and eventually, a healthy set of teeth.
Why Are Teeth So Important?
Whether we realize it or not, many of the illnesses we experience throughout our lives are directly linked to the health of our mouths. Those who focus on healthy teeth and gums tend to avoid sickness and lead a healthier lifestyle.
The same is true for babies. Healthy baby gums and teeth help with:
Holding spaces open for permanent teeth
Forming the shape of a child’s face
Chewing and eating
When baby’s teeth and gums are not cared for, it can lead to:
Pain and discomfort
Infections that can affect the baby’s overall health
More visits to the doctor
So What Can You Do To Keep Your Baby’s Mouth Clean?
It’s recommended that parents begin cleaning their baby’s mouth at least once a day even before teeth appear. This can be done using a soft cloth or gauze pad that is dampened, but not soaking wet. Gently wipe your baby’s gums and teeth.
Once teeth begin to appear in your baby’s mouth, you might consider using a soft toothbrush to gently clean all surfaces of the teeth, including gums. Dentists and doctors agree that it is not necessary to use toothpaste at first, but when you do introduce toothpaste, make sure it contains fluoride.
Eventually your child will be able to brush their own teeth, but it’s still a good idea to supervise and help until they reach the age of 11.
Baby Bottle Tips to Avoid Tooth Decay
Unfortunately, tooth decay is very common in babies that use a bottle more than they should. The acid that forms in the mouth when a baby drinks from a bottle with a sweetened liquid begins to break down the protective tooth enamel. Here’s a few ideas on how to prevent tooth decay from a baby bottle:
Avoid feeding your baby just before bedtime or naptime
Gently wipe your baby’s teeth and gums after feeding
Don’t put your baby to bed with a bottle
Avoid using a bottle as a pacifier
Give your baby a small amount of water at the end of each feeding.
By proactively working to keep your baby’s mouth clean, you are helping them avoid sickness, pain and frequent trips to the doctor. If your child is showing signs of fever or infection, be sure to bring them to AllKids Urgent Care so we can quickly address the cause.