Congratulations on the arrival of your baby! Are you prepared for the arrival of your infant’s first tooth? Follow these guidelines and your son or daughter will be on the way to a lifetime of healthy smiles!
Baby’s First Tooth
When that first tooth makes an entrance, it’s time to use a baby toothbrush. There are usually two options: a long-handled brush that you and your baby can hold at the same time, or a finger-puppet-like brush that fits over the tip of your pointer finger.
In each case, the bristles are soft and few. Make sure to introduce fluoride toothpaste as soon as the first tooth erupts Children 0 to 3 years old can use a rice-grain amount of toothpaste twice daily without spitting!
If your little one doesn’t react well to the introduction of a toothbrush, don’t give up. Switch back to a damp washcloth for a few months, then try the toothbrush again. During the teething process, your son or daughter will want to chew on just about anything, and a baby toothbrush with a teether can become a favorite toy during this period.
Don’t give your baby any sort of sweetened liquids such as flavored drinks or soda. Even the sugars in fruit juice, formula, and milk (this goes for breast milk as well) can cause decay, so regular teeth and gum cleaning is vital.
Remember to make sure your baby never goes to bed with a bottle; sugary liquids in prolonged contact with teeth are a guarantee for early-childhood decay.
First Visit to the Dentist
It’s recommended that you bring your baby in for a visit within six months of the first tooth’s eruption — usually around his or her first birthday. Since decay can occur in even the smallest of teeth, the earlier your baby visits us, the more likely he or she is to avoid problems.
We will discuss the best ways to avoid any cavities in the future. Remember that preparing for each dental visit with a positive attitude goes a long way toward making your child comfortable with regular checkups.
Setting a Good Example
As part of the natural learning process, little ones are expert mimics, and you can take advantage of this talent. Brush and floss daily while your child is watching, and he or she will intuit at an early age the importance of your good habits.
As soon as your child shows interest, offer a toothbrush of his or her own and encourage your toddler to “brush” with you. (Brushes with chunky, short handles are easy to grip.) Most children don’t have the dexterity necessary to thoroughly clean their own teeth until they’re about six or seven, so you’ll have to do that part of the job.
Try different tactics to make brushing fun: flavored toothpaste, a toothbrush with a favorite character on it, or singing songs about brushing. The primary goal is to instill healthy oral habits at an early age to set your child up for a lifetime of healthy, cavity-free teeth!