Many people underestimate the importance of taking care of baby teeth as they are not permanent.
However, teaching your little one to look after their teeth is crucial. Even though this set is temporary, their health is essential to your baby’s gums and those future permanent teeth. Baby teeth, also known as milk teeth, hold space for permanent teeth, which begin coming in at 5 to 6 years. And cleaning babies’ teeth early on helps acclimate them to using toothbrushes and helps them form good habits.
Start before the teeth come in
You should start cleaning your child’s mouth even before their teeth come in. At around 3 months of age, before the first tooth comes in, it is time to start cleaning your baby’s gums and tongue. Dampen a bit of gauze or a washcloth with water only—no toothpaste—and wrap it around your finger. Use a gentle circular motion to remove food debris, and repeat this after each feeding. You can also purchase thimble-like, soft rubbery devices (they fit over your index finger) to use for rubbing off excess food.
Taking care of teeth as they come in
Once the teeth begin coming in, start taking care of them right away. Your little one’s first teeth preserve the spacing for the permanent ones and help him/her chew and talk. Without proper care, they can decay, leading to a gum infection called gingivitis, which can affect the spacing of permanent teeth. When you notice your baby’s first tooth, it’s time to start using a soft-bristled baby toothbrush. You should still not use toothpaste, but continue using a circular motion with the toothbrush gently cleaning the teeth, gums, and tongue. Try to make brushing fun so your baby will look forward to it.
The full set
By the age of 2, your baby should have all their milk teeth in place. At this stage, you can use toothpaste – the size of a grain of rice or a pea should do. Toddlers often enjoy imitating what they see you do, so they may want to brush their teeth with you. Be sure to give them assistance when brushing their teeth.
Your child’s first dentist visit
At Dream Smiles, we advise that children should first visit the dentist once the first baby tooth has erupted. This is generally around the age of 1-2. By bringing your child to regular visits to the dentist, you will be avoiding major dental treatments and costs in the future. Before your child’s first trip to the dentist, explain that we are here to take care of their teeth and help to ensure that their teeth are strong and healthy. You are welcome to sit with your child during their dental check-ups.