You may have heard that baby's first visit to Richmond Smile Center should be scheduled no later than his or her first birthday or when the first tooth erupts. What you may not be as familiar with is the way to take care of baby's gums and teeth when you can't be at the office.
At-home care is vital to the littlest patients' oral health. Good oral health as a baby sets the stage for lifelong oral health. Remember, baby teeth help to guide permanent teeth into place. When they're lost prematurely, it can have long-term consequences for proper dental development.
Dr. Charles Martin's practice is built around patient education, a passion evidenced by the books he has written on oral health. Dr. Martin and his staff will equip you with the necessary information to keep baby teeth and gums at their healthiest.
It should be said that parents not only have the power to set good examples, which promote oral health, but also the mother's oral health affects baby even before birth. Research supports the link between a pregnant woman's periodontal disease and pre-term or low birth weight babies.
You should be cleaning baby's mouth virtually from the start, within a few days of birth. Use a clean damp cloth or damp gauze. This helps to prevent the formation of plaque, which can harm erupting teeth just as it damages adult teeth. Sore, tender gums may be soothed with a cool spoon or running a clean finger along the gumline.
Keep in mind that usually the four front teeth push through the gums when your baby is around six months old, but some babies may not get their first tooth until after they're a year old. Gums should be cleaned after each feeding.
If your child is younger than three, you can brush their teeth twice a day with no more than a smear of fluoride toothpaste (about the size of a grain of rice). A pea-sized amount of toothpaste will suffice for young children older than three. You should supervise your child's brushing until they get the technique down. Flossing should begin as soon as teeth touch each other.
Other habits outside of brushing and flossing can either promote oral health or early childhood caries, otherwise known as baby bottle decay. Be sure to practice the following good habits with your baby:
- Put baby to bed with only water
- Avoid filling baby bottles with sugar water or juice
- Use only clean pacifiers, not those dipped in honey or sugar
Dr. Martin and his team can also evaluate any other habits that could negatively affect the proper development of your child's teeth, such as thumb sucking or tongue thrusting and make recommendations to prevent long-term damage. You will not know what's best when it comes to caring for your baby's gums and first teeth until after a visit at our Richmond VA office. Call 804-417-7203 to schedule an appointment.
Last Updated - February 2016
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