Caring for Baby and Toddler Teeth

March 17, 2014

As a parent, keeping your child safe and healthy is your biggest concern. However, while you monitor your baby’s diet, weight, cognitive development, and countless other health considerations, make sure his dental wellness doesn’t fall through the cracks! Caring for your little one’s teeth can be confusing. How do you protect his dental health while teething? When should you start brushing his teeth? When should your child have his first dental appointment? In this post, your Oxford, MI dentist provides tips for keeping your child’s smile bright and healthy during the first few years.

During Pregnancy

Believe it or not, you should start caring for your child’s teeth before he or she is even born! During your sixth week of pregnancy, the basic tooth substance starts to form. If you have untreated dental decay, your child is four times more likely to suffer dental damage after birth. Additionally, gum disease has been linked to low birth rates and premature births. If you are pregnant or trying to become pregnant, you should seek immediate treatment for periodontal disease to protect your child’s health. Of course, you already know that what you eat affects the health of your baby, but did you know it can affect dental development as well? Be sure to get plenty of calcium, beta carotene, and Vitamins A, C, and D, which will help your baby to develop strong teeth and bones. Finally, you should never smoke while pregnant. In addition to raising your risk for miscarriage and stillbirth, smoking during pregnancy has been linked to a higher risk for cleft palates.

Newborns and Teething

Even before the first tooth appears, you should protect your child’s oral health by wiping down his gums with a soft cloth every day. Around his sixth month, your baby’s first tooth will appear. Teething can be a stressful time, both for you and for your baby. To soothe his pain, try rubbing your clean finger gently across his gums. You can also use teething rings and safe, FDA-approved teething gel. Make sure that any teething rings or toys are safely disinfected before you give them to your baby.

Caring for Baby Teeth

Even though baby teeth are not permanent, proper maintenance is extremely important. An infected baby tooth hurts just as much as an infected adult tooth. Additionally, if your child is in pain, it may prevent him from eating properly and getting all the vitamins and nutrients he needs. As soon as your baby’s first tooth comes in, you should begin using a soft toothbrush to gently clean his teeth; you should not start to use toothpaste until your child is about two years old. To further protect your little one’s dental health, you should be careful with pacifiers and bottles. Always completely disinfect these items before giving them to your baby. You should never let your baby fall asleep with his bottle. Milk or formula may then accumulate in his mouth and stay there for several hours, leading to dental decay. Finally, you should make an appointment with your pediatric dentist. Experts recommend that a child receive his first dental exam when he is about one year old or six months after his first tooth erupts. At this appointment, your dentist can begin to monitor dental development, and together you can lay the foundations for a healthy dental future.

About Dr. Greenfield: Dr. Brad Greenfield pediatric dentist, with a passion for treating the very youngest patients. He makes dental visits fun, and is dedicated to early education about dental health and hygiene. To learn more or to schedule your child’s first dental visit, call (248) 693-6213 today. Dr. Greenfield proudly treats families in Oxford, Clarkston, Auburn Hills, Rochester Hills, and neighboring communities.

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