Tooth development begins long before teeth begin to emerge from the gums, and even after the first teeth erupt, babies do not have the ability to clean their own gums and teeth so it is important that parents take steps to help them avoid tooth decay. Unfortunately even in baby food and drinks there can be a lot of sugar so parents should make sure to clean a baby’s gums after every feeding. Here are some tips to keep in mind when it comes to keeping your baby’s gums and teeth healthy.
- After breastfeeding or bottle feeding, clean off the baby’s gums with a moistened piece of gauze or a clean cloth. When babies sleep, their saliva production decreases, making it easier for bacteria to incubate and start the process of decay.
- Once a baby’s teeth start to emerge, cleaning becomes even more important. Use a soft brush meant for babies with water to gently scrub their teeth after every feeding.
- By the time a baby is able to drink out of a cup, they should be weaned away from the bottle and given a cup to drink from. It is important for the development of facial muscles for babies to perform the sucking motion natural for breastfeeding, but after a certain point it can be bad for their teeth.
- When weaning babies off of formula, you can start with a mixture of formula diluted with water. Steadily increase the water-to-formula proportion until they are drinking just water. Water is the only safe liquid to give babies and not have to clean their teeth afterward.
Reasons to Keep Baby Teeth Clean
If bacteria are allowed to grow uninhibited in a baby’s mouth, they can experience painful cavities and other forms of tooth decay; baby teeth with significant problems may require extraction, which can lead to speech impediments and difficulty eating. Their permanent adult teeth may even grow in an irregular way that will necessitate more orthodontic interventions later. Remember that healthy baby teeth will lead to healthy adult teeth, so take care of your child’s dental health until the point when you can get them brushing every night on their own.