6 tips for caring for your baby’s teeth
Many parents don’t realize caring for their baby’s teeth begins long before the first pearly white is even visible.
“You may be surprised to learn there are things you can do for your child’s oral hygiene when they’re just a few months old,” says Dr. Janice Lubas, a pediatric dentist at Advocate Children’s Hospital. Dr. Lubas offers the following advice for parents of babies and toddlers.
- Never put your child to bed with a bottle. Not only is this generally unsafe, as it can cause a child to choke while laying down, but it increases the risk for tooth decay.
- Gently wipe your baby’s gums with a soft washcloth after eating to help remove any milk, formula or food.
- Avoid juice and sugary drinks as much as possible. Certain snacks, including fruit snacks and raisins, stick to and coat the teeth, leading to tooth decay. Instead, offer your child foods like fresh fruit and raw vegetables, which scrape the teeth and help to promote cleaning in between brushing.
- Take your child to their first dentist appointment by the time they are 1 year old or as soon as their first tooth comes in. Continue with regular checkups every six months or as recommended by your child’s dentist.
- Brush your child’s teeth twice a day with the recommended amount of toothpaste with fluoride. Generally speaking, for children under 2 years old, you should use a grain of rice-sized amount of toothpaste, and in children over 2 years old, the size of a pea. For children under 2, consider using toothpaste just once a day. Be sure to speak with your child’s dentist.
- Set an example! Practice good oral hygiene. Many young children enjoy brushing their teeth at the same time as their parent.
“Practicing good oral hygiene is an important component of our overall health,” says Dr. Lubas. “Teaching your child the importance of caring for their teeth and gums beginning when they are young will help them build a lifetime of good oral hygiene habits.”
About the Author
Holly Brenza, health enews contributor, is a public affairs coordinator on the content team at Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care. She is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Chicago. In her free time, Holly enjoys reading, watching the White Sox and Blackhawks, playing with her dog, Bear and running her cats' Instagram account, @strangefurthings.