As a new parent, you most likely want you child to be as healthy as possible. Oral health is very important for everyone, and there are several things that you can do to protect your baby's mouth, gums, and new teeth from a young age. Use the following tips to start a god oral hygiene routine that will help your child for the rest of his or her life:
Clean the Mouth After Feedings
Oral hygiene can start months before your child gets his or her first tooth. It is a good idea to get in the habit of cleaning your baby's mouth after each feeding to protect the gums and remove bacteria. You don't want to use a toothbrush on a very young baby who does not have any teeth-- instead, just use a clean damp towel or piece of gauze to gently clean the gums and tongue. In addition to removing bacteria, cleaning the mouth from a young age will help your child get used to an oral hygiene routine, which can make it easier when it is time to introduce a toothbrush and trips to the dentist.
Never Put Your Baby to Bed with a Bottle
Many babies find sucking very soothing, and its not uncommon for an infant to fall asleep while drinking a bottle. Some parents mistakenly believe that it is okay for a baby to go to sleep with a bottle of milk, formula, or breast milk, but this habit can actually lead to extensive damage to new teeth. When a baby falls asleep he or she may not swallow all of the milk in his or her mouth, which allows the liquid to pool on the teeth; the sugars in the milk can then feed the bacteria that leads to tooth decay.
If you don't want your child to need extensive dental work at a young age, skip putting him or her in the crib with a bottle. Offer a pacifier instead, or a bottle with a small amount of water if your child absolutely refuses to fall asleep without a bottle.
Schedule Regular Dental Appointments
According to the American Association of Pediatric Dentistry, children should see a dentist for the first time by their first birthday. Regular dental care is essential for good oral health and recognizing any issues early so they can be fixed before they turn into big problems that need extensive and invasive dental procedures.
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