Even though most babies are born without teeth, you can expect 20 primary teeth before turning three. For this reason, it’s vital for mothers, fathers, and other primary caregivers to protect your baby’s smile to the best of their abilities. In honor of Mother’s Day, Dr. Matt offers this guide to keeping your baby’s mouth healthy until their first dentist’s appointment.
Clean Your Baby’s Gums
There are few things cuter than a gummy baby smile! Even if your baby doesn’t have teeth yet, it’s never too early to care for your baby’s gums. Gently wiping your baby’s gums with a wet rag helps your baby acclimate to the feeling of having a foreign object in their mouth. Eventually, you may upgrade to a soft baby toothbrush. Over time, their teeth will finally emerge, and they should be used to having their teeth scrubbed.
Most importantly, wiping down your baby’s gums after feedings help your little ones eliminate bacteria, liquids, and food particles from their mouth.
Please Do Not Send Bottles to Bed
Although some babies may relax and drift into sleep with a bottle of milk, we don’t encourage using a bottle as a sleep aid. In a worst-case scenario, a baby who falls asleep while drinking can draw liquid into their lungs and choke.
Secondly, your baby’s oral health doesn’t benefit from a milk nightcap. Breastmilk and formula contain lactose (a sugar found in milk), which can coat and damage your baby’s gums and tiny teeth. Even though your baby’s primary teeth eventually fall out, keeping baby teeth healthy provides space and a baseline for permanent teeth.
Take a Moment to Take Care of Yourself
Mothers sacrifice for their children—but your oral health should not be one of those sacrifices. Commonly, new moms neglect to take care of their own needs, including dental care. To prioritize their baby’s needs, a new mom may be guilty of losing sleep, not brushing their teeth as often, or not drinking enough water. However, these small actions can add up to more extensive oral health problems, such as cavities, gum disease, teeth grinding, and dry mouth.
Moreover, you may be surprised to discover that maintaining good oral health is vital for your baby. When a baby enters the world, his or her immune system is still weak. Cavity prevention is crucial for new moms because it’s too easy to transfer tooth decay-causing bacteria from a mother’s mouth to a baby’s mouth. The bottom line, scheduling self-care is a way to take care of your children.
Don’t Share Saliva
Although baby’s kisses are irresistible, you could be passing harmful germs that put your baby at risk. As general rules, avoid kissing your baby on the mouth, eating with the same spoon, or cleaning pacifiers with your spit—instead, clean spoons and pacifiers with soap and water (or a pacifier wipe if handy).
Don’t Hesitate to Book Baby’s First Dentist’s Appointment
Many new parents are eager to take their baby to their first dental appointment. So, we suggest scheduling this special initial appointment after their first tooth emerges or around their first birthday.
Is your child under the age of 2? Find out how they can score a free dental exam and clean at our Overland Park office by calling (913) 685-9990 or messaging us online.