Motherhood is not for the faint of heart.
With busy schedules full of carpools, play dates, and errands it’s challenging enough to simply get through a day! And for first-time moms, there’s the added pressure of diving into all the challenges of new motherhood. Whether you’re deep in the trenches of a packed schedule, or simply navigating a new baby, we’ve got you covered on tips for best newborn dental health to motivating teen oral hygiene.
Everything You Need to Know About Newborn Dental Health and Baby Teeth
Did you know that most children have all 20 of their baby (or primary) teeth by the age of three? Perhaps it’s not surprising then, that American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends a first-time visit to the dentist by age one, or by the time the first tooth pokes through. Newborn dental health may not be the first thing mom thinks of in her sleep deprived, first-year frenzy. And who can blame her? Happily, there are a few simple things mom can do to ensure positive infant oral care.
Here are a few simple baby dental hygiene steps to help establish lasting mouth and overall health habits:
- Keep Baby Gums Clean: Even before the first tooth arrives, gently rubbing a clean, warm washcloth or damp gauze pad over your child’s gums will help keep them clean and may also feel good once baby starts teething.
- Be Mindful of the Bottle: Although it’s tempting to let your baby fall asleep with his/her bottle, doing so can lead to tooth decay. Whenever possible, it’s best to wipe gums and baby teeth after a bottle feeding to eliminate bacteria from settling, eventually leading to cavities.
- Protect from Pacifier Sharing: Shared saliva can transfer bacteria from one person to another. In a pinch, it’s not uncommon for mom to “clean” a pacifier or feeding spoon with a quick pop into her own mouth. Whenever possible, try to rinse anything intended for baby’s mouth with warm soapy water.
- Breastfed Newborn Oral Care: Studies have demonstrated several health benefits for breastfed infants (particularly for the first six months of life,) including a reduced likelihood of teeth alignment problems and tooth decay. Still, it’s important, just as with bottle-fed babies, to keep the gums clean after feedings.
Once baby teeth begin to arrive, mom can help begin practicing the ritual of brushing teeth. All that’s required is a child-sized, soft-bristled toothbrush with a grain of rice amount of toothpaste. Make sure to teach your toddler to brush with gentle up and down motions (never side to side!)
Crash Course Dental Tips from Preschoolers to Preteens and Beyond
As children become more independent, surely their dental routines become easier to manage, right mom … right? Not necessarily. It’s always a good idea to monitor your child’s brushing, especially as he/she transforms from toddler to preschooler. Even in the preteen and teen years, it’s not a bad idea to engage in oral hygiene checks, when laziness and defiance often arrive.
In addition to keeping tabs on brushing and flossing, here are a few more tips mom can try to ensure best dental practices throughout the formative years:
Always Pack Water
Although many children love juice, soda, and other sugary drinks, swapping sweet beverage treats for water will significantly reduce the risk of tooth decay. So much so, that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no juice for children under the age of one and minimal amounts for children over one.
Pack a Backup Kit
Provide a small travel pack for your purse or your child’s backpack so that he/she doesn’t ever have an excuse not to practice positive and proactive oral hygiene habits.
Promote a Healthy Diet
A balanced diet with minimal sugar intake has been shown to help encourage dental and overall good health. Try to integrate veggies and lean proteins sooner than later so that your child becomes accustomed to healthy eating habits (and may even learn to enjoy them!)
Keep Six-Month Checkups
To set your child up for the best and lasting oral hygiene routines, make sure he/she abides by the recommendation to visit the dentist for a full exam and cleaning every six months.
At Hospital Dental Group we honor the hard work that moms accomplish during every stage of childhood. That’s why we’re dedicated to making sure you have everything you need starting with the best strategies for newborn dental health, to ensuring that your stubborn, amazing teenager is brushing and flossing daily. Please call us today at 860-524-5194 for any questions you have regarding best dental practices or if you’d like to schedule a consultation for your child— we accommodate children of every age!