We all know how important good oral hygiene is. Brushing and flossing daily keeps teeth and gums healthy and strong, leading to a happy, healthy smile throughout a person’s lifetime. Additionally, good oral hygiene helps to avoid unpleasant procedures that nobody enjoys.
That said, many parents are unsure of when to begin these good oral hygiene practices. Believe it or not, good oral health begins when a person is still just a tiny baby. Despite the fact that babies have very few teeth, parents of these tiny individuals should start considering their child’s dental health before they ever even turn a year old. While this may seem young, there are many factors that go into growing a healthy set of chompers, meaning starting young is for the best.
There are many things a parent can do to put their child on the path to a healthy smile. Here are a few of our favorites.
Fruits, carbohydrates, and packaged foods that contain sugar all contribute to tooth decay (particularly the latter one), making them a dentist’s worst nightmare. While your little one may not have teeth yet, he or she will certainly have them soon enough.
Helping them become accustomed to a diet that supports tooth and gum health now will make your job—namely, keeping their oral health in check—easier down the road.
Offer Water, Not Juice
Consuming juice and other sugary beverages is one of the fastest ways to a cavity. Whenever baby is ready to make the switch to a sippy cup, skip the apple juice in favor of water. Water is better for a person’s overall health and it is cheaper besides. As an added bonus, teaching children to enjoy drinking water at a young age will help them make good beverage choices in the future.
Skip the Pacifier
Extended use of pacifiers can lead to misaligned teeth and other dental problems. Therefore, it is crucial to ensure your child is weaned from their pacifier before his or her second birthday. Better yet, consider skipping the pacifier altogether in order to avoid the difficulty that comes along with the weaning process.
No Bottles in Bed
Many little ones like to fall asleep while taking a bottle. While this is fine during the early weeks, this habit should be nipped in the bud whenever your child’s first tooth arrives. Milk that remains on their teeth overnight can lead to cavities; therefore, it is best to give your child a bottle during the bedtime routine but before brushing their teeth in order to ensure all milk has been removed.
The use of fluoride on little babies and toddlers is not recommended. However, it is still a good idea to gently clean your child’s teeth with a soft-bristle toothbrush and water (or fluoride-free toothpaste). This should be done twice daily in order to establish a good dental health routine.
See Your Dentist
Babies should see the dentist before they ever even turn one year old. In fact, if your child’s teeth begin coming in earlier, they may even need to visit at an earlier date. If you are unsure about whether or not it is time to make an appointment, try asking your child’s pediatrician or calling your local dentist’s office.
Are you ready to make your child’s very first dentist appointment? We would love to be the ones to help you get your little one started on his or her dental health journey. Please contact us today to discuss whether the time is right for your baby’s first checkup and set an appointment that works for your family.