While it might not be something you think about right away, your baby’s teeth are going to come in sooner than you expect. There’s a million things to think about when you’re raising a baby, and caring for their teeth is just one of the many things that will keep them healthy and prepare them for life down the road.
If this is your first child, you might not know exactly what to do with your baby’s new teeth, which is why we’re putting together a list of things you’ll want to think about as your baby gets older and his or her teeth start to come in:
Believe it or not, tooth care starts before your baby even has teeth. It’s a good idea to gently wipe down your baby’s gums after feedings and before bedtime. Use a clean piece of gauze, a moistened washcloth or a rubber finger brush to wipe their gums with firm, gentle pressure at least twice a day.
Plaque still exists in babies’ mouths even when they don’t have teeth. This bacteria can build up and harm teeth as they start to come in. By cleaning their gums twice a day you will make sure that when baby’s teeth do come in, they’ll be safe and healthy.
When your baby’s teeth do come in – anywhere between 3 and 12 months and even after – watch for some discoloration of the gums, called eruption cysts, or bruises on their gum lines. It’s important to know that these aren’t bad, and are just signs of teeth coming in. Bruising is more common, but eruption cysts aren’t outside of the norm either. Sometimes this teething process can cause your baby discomfort. Here are a few actions you can take to make them feel better:
- Rubber Teething Toy – These are made specifically to soothe your baby’s teething pain. You might put the toy in the refrigerator, as the cold will help take care of the discomfort, but do not put it in the freezer. A frozen toy is too harsh for a baby’s sensitive gums.
- Counter-Pressure – If a tooth hasn’t erupted or formed a bruise yet to show that it’s near the surface, slight pressure or friction on the area can ease pain considerably. Try rubbing the area gently with a clean finger, bare or wrapped in gauze, to help your baby feel better.
- Pain Reliever – If your baby is still inconsolable, you can give them a bit of infant pain reliever to temporarily ease the discomfort. It’s important to make sure you call your doctor to verify the recommended dose for your baby.
- DO NOT give your baby hard foods. While some claim that frozen bagels or special teething bars are good for the discomfort, saliva in your baby’s mouth eventually softens them, and they can break off into large, chokeable pieces. You should also never rub brandy on their gums. While this is an old wives’ tale, even the smallest amount of alcohol can be poisonous to babies, and there are plenty of alternative, safe options.
When your baby’s teeth are finally in, it’s time to buy a baby toothbrush. While you won’t need toothpaste until they’re a bit older, you will need a toothbrush with very soft bristles, a small head, and a large handle. Just wet the toothbrush and brush their teeth gently as you would your own. Make sure to brush around the front, back and sides of every tooth to prevent plaque buildup. As your baby gets older, you can use a tiny amount of children’s fluoride-free toothpaste until they’re old enough to not swallow it. Brush their teeth at least twice a day, in the morning and before bedtime.
See the Dentist
As soon as your baby starts teething you should set up an appointment with the dentist. Before their first birthday, they should have already been in to see him or her. A lot of people are surprised by this, or think it might be one to skip, but actually, a year one dentist appointment does a lot more than check for cavities:
- This appointment will review your child’s history, and address any questions or concerns you may have regarding his or her dental health.
- It will discuss standard benchmarks of development for your child’s teeth, preparing you for what is likely to happen next, and how to care for your baby’s next steps in tooth development.
- Your dentist will talk to you about your child’s bite (how his or her teeth will come together), any oral habits they may have, like finger and thumb sucking, how to avoid those bad habits, and how to prevent things like cavities, and trauma to your child’s mouth.
- Finally, this appointment will show you how to properly continue care for your baby’s teeth, give you advice on hygiene, diet, and the correct toothpaste usage for your child’s teeth.
After the Dentist
Continue to follow the dentist’s instructions for tooth care and proper diet. Your dentist may schedule a follow up appointment when your baby is older and their teeth are further developed. Your first appointment should have given you a clear idea of where your child is in oral development, what your responsibilities are, and what the likelihood is that your child will have problems with cavities or bite. So long as you follow their instructions, you and your baby should be happy and healthy, with bright pearly whites!
If you have any more questions regarding your baby’s teeth, or if you are considering scheduling an appointment for your child, give Mogren Dental a call at 231-737-5500, or schedule your appointment online today!