DISCLOSURE: Noelle Copeland RDH is the oral care specialist and dental consultant to the Brilliant and Baby Buddy oral care lines through Compac Industries. See terms below.
One of the most fun aspects of being “expectant parents” is the planning and preparation for the little one on the way. Nursery plans, baby clothes, baby registry, and birth plans are the ideas and things buzzing around in your mind. Between the bottles, diapers, baby shoes and toys, there’s another important plan you need to be preparing for, one you may not be aware of. Babies, yes babies, need a good oral care regimen in place. They will have their own little baby teeth soon, sooner than you think, and they need to be accustomed to a good oral care routine from the beginning so it becomes an instinctive part of their daily life as they grow. And just because they don’t have teeth doesn’t mean they don’t have bacteria in their mouth that can cause infections and damage for their oral health as their teeth come in later.
Around three months of age is when a baby starts to develop saliva, and also around the same time their immune system begins to start working, so it’s important to help cleanse the bacteria from their mouth in these first few months since they don’t have the natural means to do so yet. Wiping baby’s gums, mouth, tongue and cheeks once or twice a day prepares them for the other ways of oral care to come, setting up a great foundation for a lifetime of good habits.
Cleaning Baby’s Mouth
Cleaning your baby’s mouth after a feeding is not difficult at all. Doing so helps remove remaining milk from the day’s feedings and prevents a build up of bacteria than can cause damage later on in life.
- You can use a soft, clean wash cloth to wipe your baby’s mouth
- You can purchase baby “mouth wipes” or they are also called “tooth tissues” that are one time use, disposable, that contain xylitol, which keeps harmful bacteria from sticking to gums. A good example of these is sold by Brilliant Oral Care. It’s called their Tooth Tissues Mouth Wipes.
- You can use this method once or twice a day, or after every feeding to ensure baby’s mouth is clean.
- This is a good bonding time for parent and baby, and starts them off with the knowledge you are performing their oral care, which you will continue to perform up until and after age 5
- This becomes an important part of their routine, just as bath time, nap time and bed time
How will I know when my baby has started teething? Oh trust me, you will know!! That saliva begins being produced in the body and they will begin to wear it! Bibs to the rescue! The will be fussy, cranky, obviously in pain and frustrated. Your diligence in wiping their mouth after feeding will help you feel those budding gums, so you will have a good idea when the first teeth are ready to erupt, anywhere from 3 to 6 months. When the first baby teeth have come in, it’s time for a silicone toothbrush. A baby toothbrush for one or two little teeth? Yes, very important. There are many different styles of toothbrushes for babies and things to help you as you go:
- Finger Toothbrush – A finger toothbrush is a good choice for a starter brush. It is designed to fit snugly over an adult finger, it has little nubs of bristles on one side that you use to brush in their mouth. A great example is Brilliant’s Finger Toothbrush.
- Xylitol Gel – You can use a small pea sized amount of xylitol gel as you start to brush baby’s new teeth and their gums. Xylitol stops and inhibits the growth of bacteria in the mouth and it’s safe for babies! You do NOT want to use gels or toothpaste that contains fluoride because it is not safe for babies to swallow. Brilliant Oral Care sells Spry Tooth Gel as an effective xylitol gel.
- Teether Brush – When your baby is in the active stage of teething you can branch out and get them a teether silicone brush, with stronger bristles, that has a handle they can grip and is an effective way for them to find comfort to their sore gums, while brushing their gums as they teethe on the brush. Check out Baby’s 1st Teether-Brush by Brilliant Oral Care.
- Baby Toothbrush – Once the first baby teeth make an appearance they can be brushed with a bristle toothbrush. Brilliant has a great Baby Toothbrush for baby’s teeth. You can continue to use the silicone brushes on their gums.
First Teeth, First Visit
The American Academy of Pediatrics says your baby’s first visit to the dentist should be around the time their first teeth appear up to their first birthday. Some babies teeth come in sooner, some get them later, but by their first birthday they should have some and it’s always a good idea to let a dental professional check out baby’s mouth and their first teeth and gums to help determine when their future visits will begin.
Oral health greatly impacts overall health and there’s no better start for your child than at the very beginning. Once you plan to make dental care a regular part of your baby’s routine, you are building them a great foundation of caring for their teeth and mouth that will last them a lifetime!
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