Your baby's teeth begin forming when you are just four weeks pregnant. In fact, when your child enters the world, their mouth contains the fundamentals of both their primary--or baby--teeth and their permanent, adult teeth. How you care for your child's primary teeth before they are old enough to reasonably assume that responsibility themselves can forever affect their permanent teeth, for better or worse. Most children are not capable of adequately brushing and flossing their teeth by themselves until about the age of six. Here is what you need to know to properly care for your child's teeth.
Start Before The First Tooth Even Emerges
After each feeding, use a piece of dampened gauze wrapped around your finger to clean any milk residue off their gums. When they begin eating solid foods, use a dedicated washcloth dipped in warm water to remove any food residue. Try to briefly wipe their tongue as well. Be sure to do this after sugary treats, like juice or fruit. The sugars provide the perfect food for bacteria to grow. Doing this after every feeding will help get both you and baby used to developing this hopefully lifelong habit.
Brush Their Teeth As They Emerge
Most babies start getting their teeth around 4-6 months, although some children may be as late as 15 months. Once baby's first tooth starts coming in, use a soft tooth brush specifically for infants to brush it twice a day. You may use a toothpaste specifically developed for infants. An extremely tiny amount, no bigger than a grain of rice, is all that is needed for these initial teeth. Continue wiping the gums with the wet gauze or washcloth as well.
Use Pacifiers Sparingly
There is nothing wrong with using a pacifier in newborns and children under the age of 4-6 months; it soothes the child, exercises their sucking reflex, and gives the mother a much-needed occasional break. However, when the first tooth emerges, you want to discourage this habit when you can. A pacifier can cause the teeth to become misaligned, such as pushing the front teeth forward.
Limit Cavity-Causing Foods
Sugary foods, such as juice, fruit, dried fruit, and peanut butter as well as starchy food like crackers and pretzels, can set the stage for tooth decay. You don't need to completely deprive them of the occasional treat, but be certain to clean their teeth after they eat any of these snacks. You also don't want to them your child fall asleep with a bottle or walk around with a sippy cup all day.
Your child should see the dentist for the first time before or around their first birthday. This will give the opportunity for the baby to get accustomed to going and the dentist can catch any issues while they are still minor. Visit a site like http://www.neufamilydental.com for more information.