Caring for your baby's gums and emerging teeth
Do I need to clean my baby's gums before his teeth come in?
Yes, even before your baby sports his first tooth it is a good idea to get into the habit of wiping his gums with gauze or a soft wet washcloth during bath time. You do not need to use any toothpaste yet. You can just wrap the cloth or gauze around your index finger and rub it gently over his gums.
Bacteria in the mouth usually cannot harm the gums before teeth emerge, but it can be difficult to tell when the teeth are starting to push through, so you should start early. Getting your baby used to having his mouth cleaned as a part of his daily routine should make it easier to move to tooth brushing later on.
What is the best way to brush my baby's teeth after they start coming in?
As your child's teeth start to appear, around 6 months mostly, you need to look for a baby toothbrush with a small head and grip suitable for your hand. If your child is healthy and still hasn't sprouted his first tooth by the end of his first year, you need not worry. Some children do not start getting teeth till 15 to 18 months.
You can use a little amount of fluoride toothpaste. A dot size of a grain of rice or a thin smear is all what you need. In order to avoid giving your child too much fluoride, you can follow this recommendation.
Twice a day, you should gently brush on the inside and outside of each of your baby's teeth, as well as his tongue, if he will let you. This will help to dislodge bacteria which can cause bad breath. There is no need to rinse as you are using a small amount of toothpaste.
You should replace the toothbrush as soon as the bristles start to look worn or splayed.
For now your baby's teeth are probably apart, so you will not have to worry about flossing. There is no evidence that flossing baby teeth makes a difference. To be on the safe side, many dentists recommend parents to start flossing when tooth surfaces touch so that you cannot clean them with a toothbrush.
When does my baby need fluoride?
Your baby's developing teeth can benefit from a little fluoride. This mineral helps prevent tooth decaying by strengthening tooth enamel and making it more resistant to acids and harmful bacteria. Your baby can get fluoride from toothpaste and from water.
Remember that it is not a good idea to give your baby water till he is about 6 months old. Till then, he will get all the ... continue reading