Proper Oral Hygiene for Babies and Toddlers

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Believe it or not, proper dental care begins at birth.  Yes, caring for your baby’s teeth begins even before their teeth break through their gums.  People often neglect the dental health of their young child because they believe that baby teeth don’t really matter since they will lose them anyway.  But in fact, your child’s dental health matters for a myriad of reasons.  Not only is it important to protect your baby or toddler’s teeth from tooth decay but it also teaches them healthy oral hygiene habits that will last a lifetime. 

Even before baby teeth arrive in your child’s mouth, they may experience teething pain.  There are many ways you can help relieve their pain.  There are many baby toothbrushes available today that also double as a great teether than can massage their gums which babies find comforting.  Additionally, it helps them get used to the idea of having a tooth brush in their mouth for when you begin brushing.  Baby teeth typically begin erupting sometime between 6 months of age and 1 year.  One of the best things you can do for your baby at this early stage of dental care is to never put them to bed with a bottle of milk.  The sugar in milk and formula can lead to tooth decay and if they drink all night from their bottle it may accelerate tooth decay.  A child’s first dental appointment is typically recommended at their routine well-check with their physician.  Many people find this silly, particularly if their child only has one or two teeth.  But, introducing them to the dentist can help get them used to the experience and calm future fears of treatment.  Further, it will allow the dentist to begin assessing your child’s oral health.

As soon as your child has two teeth that touch you should begin flossing.  There are many different floss products available that make flossing your child’s teeth easier.  Additionally, many parents find it easier to floss (and even brush) their child’s teeth if the child is laying down.  Your child’s teeth should be brushed twice per day with a very small amount of fluoride toothpaste.  Another way to encourage healthy teeth in your toddler is to limit juice consumption because high amounts of sugar can accelerate tooth decay.  Finally, if your child uses a pacifier, use should be discontinued by age 2 or 3 to allow teeth to properly line up in the mouth.  By starting out with proper oral hygiene and care from birth, you can encourage your baby and toddler to have healthy oral hygiene for life.

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