7 Things You Didn’t Know About Baby’s Oral Health
They might be hidden right now, but baby is actually born with a mouthful of teeth. After about six months, those pearly whites will start to emerge, leaving baby in a bit of pain (hello, teething) and you with a lot of questions: How should I brush his teeth? When should we go to the dentist? And why are her teeth growing in crooked? We asked Cathleen Ballance, MD, pediatrician at K. Hovnanian Children’s Hospital in New Jersey, to share her expert advice on all things dental, from how to take care of baby’s first teeth to the must-haves you need to clean them, including products from the Maker of Orajel early tooth and gum care line.
Baby teeth do matter.
Just because they’re going to fall out, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take care of baby’s first teeth. “They can develop cavities, which can lead to infection in the gums, pain and difficulty eating,” Ballance says. “When kids have cavities in their baby teeth, they’re much more likely to have them in their permanent teeth.” Why? Cavities are caused by specific germs that spread easily, so once baby’s mouth has been colonized by that bacteria, he’ll be prone to cavities in his adult teeth too. That’s why the care you give his teeth now can have a big impact on their health in the future. Primary teeth save space for the development of permanent teeth, so if they fall out early due to decay or have to be pulled, it can cause shifting and crowding later on.
Brushing isn’t that different.
They might be smaller (and not so permanent), but you should treat baby’s teeth practically like your own, which means brushing and yes, flossing—eventually. “The recommendation is to start brushing at the eruption of the first tooth,” Ballance says. You can use a baby toothbrush that has softer bristles or a finger brush that may be easier for you to control. Be sure to brush baby’s teeth and gums twice a day, particularly after feeding and before bedtime. As for flossing, that can wait until…