How to Ensure Good Oral Health During Your Baby’s First Year
With all a parent needs to be concerned about during a baby’s first year, oral health might not seem to be a high priority – especially since a baby might spend most of her or his first year without teeth! The truth is, however, that there are several things parents should do to ensure that their baby’s first 12 months, and future years, are free of any oral health issues.
Clean the baby’s gums.
This may surprise you, but parents should clean their baby’s mouth from day one to ensure that their gums are healthy. You can use an infant toothbrush or a soft cloth soaked in cool, clean water to clean your baby’s gums after nursing and after each meal.
Don’t send the baby to bed with a bottle of milk.
While milk is an important par of an infant’s diet, you should never let your child go to bed with a bottle of milk. The reason: the milk exposes your baby’s gums and teeth to sugar for an extended period of time, which can lead to tooth decay. If your child does need a bottle in order to get to sleep, fill it with water instead of milk. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) advises that parents also avoid giving their children other high-sugar in a bottle, including fruit juice, soda and sports drinks.
Get ready for teething.
Your child could have tender gums due to teething starting at the six month mark, or even earlier. This is normal and nothing to worry about, but you can alleviate your child’s pain with a clean damp washcloth or a clean teething ring. You can also gently massage your child’s gums with your clean finger to help ease their discomfort.
Read More about how to prevent tooth decay.
Give your child mouth-healthy solid foods.
Most children are ready to begin eating some solid foods around the 6-month mark, which is a great opportunity to introduce them to a diet that will promote a health mouth (and a healthy body). Great examples of healthy soft foods include pureed avocados and pureed boiled sweet potatoes. The Vitamin-C in avocados contains contains the mineral folate, which combats gum disease, while sweet potatoes support oral health due to their high Vitamin-A content. To be safe, however, always check with your pediatrician to make sure your child is ready for solid foods.
See a pediatric dentist before your baby’s first birthday.
The AAPD and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advise parents to have their infants see a pediatric dentist as soon as their first tooth emerges, which is around the six-month mark. After their first visit, they advise seeing the pediatric dentist every 6 months for ongoing preventative care.
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