Great Dental Care Starts Before the Teeth Even Enter the Picture
Dental care has come a long way in the past few decades, but what always surprises us is how many people don’t understand the importance of good oral hygiene for babies. Yes… it actually does start before the first tooth even erupts through the gums. We aren’t suggesting you bring baby in for a visit before that first tooth breaks through, but there are so many important habits you should do at home to start baby on the right path to dental health.
Dental Health Starts from Day One
Babies can’t look after their own teeth, so it’s up to us adults to know what to do, and practice consistent good oral care. Until sometime between 6 and 12 months, baby has that beautiful gummy smile, but it is important to note that there is a full set of 20 teeth lurking below the gums from the get-go. So, taking care of the gums is the first step in ensuring a healthy start.
Let’s look at what else you should be doing at home in the early years:
- Model good behaviour. Monkey see, monkey do… so make sure they are seeing good dental habits in action and as often as possible. Kids are sponges, so even if you don’t think they’re paying attention, they are soaking it all in.
- Use the right tools. Before the teeth erupt through the gums you’ll want to use a small silicone “gum cleaner,” wash cloth, or gauze, to rub the gums twice daily. This helps rid the gums of any bacteria that is lurking in their mouth. As your child grows, so do their tools. What doesn’t change is the need for very soft-bristled brushes to avoid over-brushing the gums and tooth surface. As soon as your child has teeth that touch, you’ll want to introduce floss (yup… we said it). Floss really does help protect against bacteria that can’t be reached with a toothbrush alone and is an important habit to learn and adopt while young.
- Be aware of, and avoid, unhealthy habits. While saying no to all sugar isn’t realistic for most families, like adults, too much sugar can lead to tooth decay. But, did you know that one of the worst culprits of sugar to young teeth is the sugar that lingers on their teeth from their drinks? Putting your child to bed with a bottle that contains milk or fruit juice is one of the worst things you can do for your child’s teeth. The sugars in common kids’ drinks will linger on their teeth as they sleep, causing damage that you can’t even see. Even if you brush first thing in the morning… the damage is done.
- Stay involved and hands on. Until you are comfortable that your child can brush effectively on his or her own, continue to help them brush their teeth morning and night. For some parents this could be well into the school-aged years, but it’s important and a good time to bond, even if it is just a few minutes.
Setting Myths Straight
We often hear, “My baby doesn’t even have any teeth, so I’m not worrying about it yet.”
The truth is that the health of your child’s permanent teeth is tied to the health of their baby teeth and gums. Any decay or bacteria that live on your child’s baby teeth, can be transferred through the gums and root systems to the waiting adult teeth, causing permanent damage before they even erupt.
It really is a natural progression and if anything causes that progression to shift, you could be forever changing the course of your child’s permanent teeth, while causing a lifetime of additional dental treatments.
We recommend bringing your child for their first visit when their first teeth are erupting or by age one, whichever comes first. This will allow our professional and gentle dental team to get an early look at your child’s mouth to ensure everything is progressing as it should. It also allows our team to identify, and address, any potential issues before they become harmful.
Give your child the gift of good oral care early and they’ll have it with them forever.
If you have any tips or stories to share about how you make oral health fun, let us know. We always love to pass on tried and true strategies from other parents.
Are you interested in learning more about our approach to dental care or cosmetic dentistry in Oakville, or have a question about your specific situation, get in touch with Oakville Dentist, Dr. Agatha Bis and her team by calling 905.338.6684 or by completing the form below.
Dr. Agatha Bis Dentistry is located in Oakville Ontario and helps patients from Oakville, Burlington, Hamilton, Mississauga and Toronto with their holistic and cosmetic dental needs.