Babies and Toddlers Teeth

Great oral habits are some of best health lessons that you can pass on to your kids. This starts from infancy, continues into early childhood, and beyond. Good dental habits include helping your child brush his or her teeth twice a day, teaching your child the proper way to floss, keeping between-meal snacks healthy and to a minimum, as well as seeing our dentists at the office of Dr. Beanca Chu, DDS, APC on a regular basis.

At what age do I start caring for my child’s oral hygiene?

Although most infants won’t get their first teeth until close to 6 months, oral care is important from the beginning. To start good oral habits early on, it’s best to make a habit of cleansing your baby’s gums soon after birth. You won’t need toothpaste yet. Simply wrap a soft wet cloth or gauze around your finger and gently rub it over your little one’s gums during bath time.

Bacteria found in the mouth can’t harm your baby’s gum before any teeth emerge, but it may be difficult to pinpoint exactly when this is, so it’s smart to start early. Getting your infant used to having his or her mouth cleaned during their daily routine will also help the transition to tooth-brushing later on.

What do I do when my baby’s teeth start coming in?

Although we don’t usually think of our infants as having teeth, the crowns of the primary, or baby teeth, are almost completely developed under the gums at birth. The four front teeth, lower and upper, generally erupt first. By the age of 3, most children have a full set of primary teeth. Even though these teeth don’t last forever they still deserve good care. Strong, healthy teeth not only allow your child chew food easily, but they also help to pronounce words properly and serve as a healthy placeholder for the growth of permanent teeth.

You may begin brushing your infant’s teeth as soon as they start to erupt. Place a tiny amount of toothpaste on a baby toothbrush. It’s important to get your baby used to brushing their teeth as part of their daily routine. Set a good example by letting your infant and toddler see you brushing your own teeth.

How do I brush my baby’s teeth?

It’s a good idea to assist and supervise your child while brushing their teeth until they have reached the age of 7 or are able to confidently accomplish thorough cleanings on their own. Follow these tips to ensure proper oral care:

  • Use a tiny smear of ADA-accepted fluoride toothpaste for babies and toddlers up to the age of 3. A pea-size amount is recommended for children between 3 and 6.
  • Gently brush the inside surfaces of your child’s teeth with a soft bristle toothbrush. This is where plaque accumulates the most. Angle the bristles towards the gum line and brush in a gentle circular motion.
  • The best way to brush your infant’s teeth is to place them on your knee and rest their head against your chest. With older children, you may stand behind them and tilt their head back towards you.
  • Cover all surfaces of your child’s teeth. Encourage them to spit out the toothpaste afterword. Avoid rinsing, as this will wash away the fluoride.
  • Gradually begin brushing your child’s teeth more thoroughly. Set a routine by brushing your child’s teeth at the same time twice a day.
  • Always supervise your child to ensure that they are using the right amount of toothpaste and that they aren’t consuming any from the tube.
  • Some children do not like having their teeth brushed. Make it a game and try brushing your teeth at the same time to encourage good habits.
  • Continue to supervise your child while they brush their teeth until you are sure they can do it well enough on their own to maintain good oral health.

What bad oral health habits should my baby/toddler avoid?

Protecting your child from tooth decay and creating good oral hygiene habits begins at an early age. As a parent, it’s important to know what habits to avoid.

Baby Bottle Decay

Dentists warn against putting your infant or older child down for bed or naptime with a bottle of formula, milk, or juice. Sugary liquids will cling to his or her teeth, which will foster bacteria and cause tooth decay.

Limit Juice Intake

Limit your child’s juice intake to no more than 4 ounces of 100% fruit juice daily. Use juice as a treat and only give sugary foods and drinks at mealtime.

Ditch the Pacifier

While there are a lot of great reasons to give your child a pacifier, studies show that letting your child use a pacifier past the age of 2 or 3 can affect teeth lineup and the shape of your child’s mouth.

Look Out for Sweet Medicine

Children’s medication is often sugary and flavored. However, chances of cavities increase when these medicines stick to your child’s teeth. Children that take medication for chronic conditions such as hearth problems and asthma are often at higher risk of tooth decay and infection. Talk with Dr. Beanca Chu if your child is taking any long-term medication. We may recommend increasing brushing up to 4 times daily.

When should I schedule my child’s first dental visit?

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends a first visit by your child’s first birthday. Scheduling dental visits this early in life may come as a surprise to many new parents. However, national studies have revealed that preschool-aged children are prone to getting cavities. 1 in 4 children in the United States experience a cavity by the age of 11, while many toddlers encounter cavities as early as age 2.

It’s important to emphasize dental visits as a positive experience. Let your child know that visiting the dentist can be fun and is the best way to maintain good oral health. Creating a positive attitude around dental hygiene will ensure that your child continues good oral habits throughout his or her life. At Dr. Beanca Chu’s office, we teach children that oral hygiene is fun and an important aspect of your overall health. Stop by, call us, or contact us online to schedule an appointment today!