Dentists Advise New Parents on Baby Oral Hygiene.

New parents are pummeled with advice after the birth of their first child. People are not shy about sharing their opinions on whether kids should be vaccinated for diseases and what foods are appropriate. However, parents do not receive much advice on how to care for their baby’s teeth and gums. Parents can take comfort in knowing that it is never too early to start a good oral hygiene regimen for their babies. Dentists offer a number of recommendations to prevent childhood tooth and gum problems and make suggestions on handling your toddler’s first visit.

Dentists recommend that your child have a checkup by their first birthday or within 6 months after the first tooth comes in. In the meantime, keep your infant’s gums clean with a clean, damp cloth after each feeding to wipe away bacteria. Avoid putting your baby to bed with a bottle filled with anything but plain water to prevent decay caused by nursing. When your child’s teeth start to come in, brush them with a soft-bristled toothbrush and water. Ask your hygienist about using toothpaste before age 2. After age 2, use a tiny amount of paste and supervise as your child brushes. Check to make sure he or she has cleaned away all plaque and assist with flossing. Allowing your child to participate in the oral care routine at an early age builds confidence.

Many parents mistakenly believe that baby teeth are not important because they will eventually fall out. This set helps kids chew properly, are involved in speech development, save space for permanent ones and promote a healthy self-image. Therefore, it is important to establish a good oral hygiene program as soon as possible.

When it is time for an appointment, there may be a few tears. Fortunately, there are a number of things parents can do to prepare their kids for their first trip to the chair. Ask friends to recommend kid-friendly dentists, or speak with your practitioner about how he or she handles young patients. Reading books about a pending checkup can start a conversation in which you can address concerns. You can also guide your child in counting his or her teeth using a finger. Finally, parenting experts recommend not passing along your own fears about the dentist to your toddler.

If you have been taking care of your baby’s gums, the first visit should be relatively painless. This visit is more for the benefit of the parents than the toddler’s. Dentists will take the opportunity to explain how to establish an oral care regimen that will prevent cavities, tooth decay and gum disease. He or she will also discuss fluoride, developmental milestones, teething, thumb sucking and other oral habits and proper nutrition. The exam may be limited to checking for decay, examining the gums and looking for potential problems with your child’s bite or jaws.

An early start on an oral hygiene regimen can lead to the development of good habits later in life. Follow the advice of an oral care professional to ensure your baby will grow up with a healthy smile.

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