Oral Care for Babies
One of the roles of a parent is to safeguard their child from harm. We have written before about thumb-sucking, thrush, and baby bottle syndrome and since tooth decay has become the number one most common disease in children, it’s worthwhile to take a few minutes to consider some other preventative measures.
The easiest way to start to by getting in the habit of wiping out the baby’s mouth with a clean, wet washcloth at bath or bedtime. This routine makes it easy to switch to a twice-daily cleaning with a tiny toothbrush and a ‘smear’ of toothpaste when the baby’s first tooth erupts. Because it’s such a small amount, there won’t be any to swallow, so fears of the baby ingesting too much fluoride are unwarranted.
Night time bottles
One of the big reasons for tooth decay is night time bottles of juice or milk. In fact, let’s take a moment to consider sugar in your baby’s diet. We aren’t condoning raising your child sugar-free. But, as long as you have control over what they eat, if you steer them away from sweet foods, it can lessen their craving for it. Since desires for sweets are learned, and since children will naturally gravitate toward what their body needs if they are offered plenty of fresh food, their teeth will thank you if you don’t automatically start feeding them fruit. Pediatricians say a nice bit of mashed avocado is a good alternative.
Kissing and sharing utensils
Some people love to kiss babies on the mouth or share eating utensils with them.
Mouth-kissing can lead to the transmission of oral herpes, as babies don’t have fully developed immune systems. So, if parents make it a policy not to kiss the baby on the mouth, and ask others to respect the plan, not only will it prevent sharing of oral bacteria, which can lead to cavities, but it may also help prevent the spread of the herpes virus, which can return again and again.
Lip and tongue ties
One other thing that babies sometimes have is tongue or lip tie. If you push your tongue forward against your upper lip with your lips closed, it will eventually hit the space between your gums and lips. Right there in the middle, you may feel a tiny flap of tissue, which is known as the frenulum. Sometimes babies have such a highly developed frenulum that it can affect their nursing and eating. It can cause speech delays, since the lips or tongue may not be able to form certain sounds. Dental hygiene is another issue since food or liquids can hide in the ‘pockets’ created by a frenulum. A lip tie can even the way their teeth come in. Since children who have a tongue or lip tie are often poor feeders, this usually comes to a parent’s attention long before it becomes a dental issue.
If you need a gentle, caring dental team, please call our office at (623) 362-2550. We’ll give you the very best dental care we can!