Truly, it is never too early to start a child on a good dental health regimen. Keeping their baby teeth healthy will ensure that they don’t have dental problems in their infancy. It will also help to create habits that will hopefully last into their adulthood. Obviously, babies don’t have teeth when they’re first born but they grow them faster than you might realize. A baby’s first teeth erupt at about six months of age. The first tooth can begin to show through the gums as soon as four months. That’s generally when teething is said to begin; it can be a somewhat painful experience for a baby and an exhausting experience for a parent.
Before the First Teeth
At about four months, or whenever the first teeth begin to show through the gums, you should implement a dental health regimen. Breast milk and formula are both very sugary; they can leave sugar on the baby’s gums that will then feed bacteria. Since babies that young don’t drink water, there’s almost nothing to wash away that sugar. You can begin at this stage brushing your baby’s teeth with a soft, flexible brush designed for the gums.
These brushes are mostly just a means to massage the gums. Since teething causes pain and itching in an infant’s mouth, massaging their gums with an infant toothbrush can help soothe them. Most dentists recommend you brush their gums with a fluoride-free toothpaste.
After the Teeth Erupt
After the first teeth erupt, you can usually switch to a different toothbrush designed for the first teeth. It will likely have bristles that still aren’t like your toothbrush but ones that will reach between the teeth. Since teeth erupt in pairs, that will be important. Using a tiny amount of fluoride-free toothpaste is important. You can also use this toothbrush to massage the gums where teeth have yet to erupt.
This is also when you should take your baby for their first dental appointment. Dentists generally say there’s not a huge need for this, but it’s good to get a baby in the habit of visiting a dentist. Building positive associations with the dentist even this early will help them avoid anxiety in future visits.
Caring for an infant’s teeth is pretty simple. You can generally buy a pack of infant toothbrushes that will accommodate different stages of development. Start them when the first teeth begin to bulge underneath the gums; use a fluoride-free toothpaste. If you have specific questions, call Dr. Blaisdell's office to setup an exam.