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INFANT ORAL CARE
The AAPD (American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry) recommends that you schedule your child’s first oral hygiene appointment when they reach their 1st birthday. Why so soon? The biggest reason is to help prevent problems from occurring.
Infant oral care begins before you can even see tooth buds in your infant’s mouth. The sugars in the milk and juices they drink and/or the sugars found in the solid foods they will later eat affect gum health. Sugars left to fester on the gums and teeth affect the health of gums and developing teeth.
Parents/Guardians play a pivotal role in the development of good oral habits by cleaning your infant’s gums right after they are born. Expect that it may take some getting used to at first, but soon your baby will not be opposed to having his mouth cleaned. By getting your infant adapted to oral care early on, you lay a foundation for success with toothbrushing/flossing in the years to follow.
Before Teeth Erupt – Follow steps twice a day, after breakfast and before bed
- Begin by laying your infant comfortably on your lap so their head is close to your chest, and you can see clearly into their mouth.
- Rub a clean, damp, washcloth along the baby’s upper and lower gums. (You can also purchase “finger cots”- terry-cloth coverings – that are specifically designed for this.)
When Teeth Begin to Erupt – Follow steps two to three times a day
- Start brushing erupting teeth with a soft-bristled toothbrush and water. Use a smear (or roughly the size of a grain of rice) of fluoride toothpaste for children from tooth eruption through age 2, and families should increase this to a pea-sized amount of toothpaste for children ages 3-6. Always supervise brushing to ensure that your child does not swallow any toothpaste.
- Establish a regular schedule of infant oral care (brushing teeth/practicing flossing together) to help your child develop this healthy habit.
- Plan and schedule regular dental visits.