It’s common to think of baby teeth as “disposable”. After all, they’re meant to fall out, right? What gets many people by surprise is that healthy baby teeth are in fact very important. They lead the way — literally, even — to healthy permanent, or adult, teeth. If they get diseased or fall out too soon, it can lead to greater problems down the line.
From misaligned adult teeth to bite problems, taking care of your child’s first teeth can make a huge difference.
Tips for Baby Gums and Teeth
Gums are often overlooked in people’s daily oral hygiene routine. Cleaning your gums is just as — if not more, in some cases — important as cleaning your teeth. And it’s something you can start very early with your child. Even before their teeth appear, you should start cleaning their gums regularly.
No brushes or paste needed; just a gentle wipe with a clean, damp face washer or gauze will do the trick.
This will continue even when the first teeth appear. Simply wrap the gauze or washer around your finger, and gently wipe the baby teeth front and back.
Baby-size toothbrushes with soft bristles are available that you can try to introduce at this point. However, it’s important to note you should not use toothpaste until the child is at least 18 months old, unless told otherwise by your dentist.
Cleaning Baby Teeth
Keeping a tired, restless or fussing child still long enough to clean their teeth can be a challenge.
To help you cope, here’s our advice for cleaning your baby’s teeth:
- Place the baby in a comfortable position. Position them so that you can see into their mouth, and they feel secure.
- Cup your baby’s chin in your hands, with their head resting against your body.
- Clean the teeth using soft, circular motions.
- Lift their lips to brush the front and back of the teeth and at the gum line.
Baby Teeth and Diet
As it is with adults, diet plays a major role in keeping your teeth healthy. No amount of brushing or cleaning will make up for excessive amounts of food that promote decay.
- Sugary drinks should be kept to an absolute minimum.
- Put your baby to bed with a bottle of water, not juice. Juice has comparable quantities of sugar to most soft drinks.
- Avoid lollies, sweets, and starchy foods that can help promote oral bacterias.
Your Child’s First Dental Appointment
We encourage parents to bring their children with them to the dentist during one of their regular checks and cleans from about 6 months old. The child won’t have any work done on them; this is purely to get them used to the dental environment. Establishing healthy, positive associations with the dentist early on is key to a long life of good oral care.
Your child is ready for their first proper visit at around 2 years of age, when most of their baby teeth have started appearing. This visit involves a simple check and clean, and some record keeping to start tracking the growth and health of your child’s teeth.