Your baby’s oral health begins after birth, as she arrives with her teeth hidden in her gums. You will be setting the foundation for a healthy life as you tend to her gums early on. The American Dental Association recommends that your baby be seen by a dentist six months after the first tooth emerges. At the very least, your child should be seen by a dentist by the time she hits her first birthday, to check for decay or abnormalities.
As your baby grows the primary teeth push their way through the gums. These first teeth usually start to show up around six months. By the time your child is three, she will have all 20 primary teeth in place. Your child will begin losing these teeth by the time she is six, allowing the permanent, or adult teeth to come in. By the time your child is 13 she will have all of her adult teeth.
The American Academy of Pediatrics advises that you clean your baby’s teeth after breakfast and before bedtime. Baby’s gums can be cleaned before the first tooth erupts by wiping her gums with a clean, damp washcloth or gauze after feeding.
Don’t be tempted to put your baby to bed with a bottle of juice or milk to use during naptime or bedtime, as it can cause tooth decay as well as misalignment of the teeth from sucking. When your child’s teeth emerge, brush gently using a small, baby toothbrush with soft bristles and plain water several times a day. It is not advisable to use toothpaste before your baby is two years old.
From the ages of 12-24 months, you can put a pea-sized amount of toothpaste on your child’s toothbrush to clean teeth. Your child will need your help in cleaning her teeth until she develops the manual dexterity to do so, until around age six. If you want to encourage your child to build confidence, you can let her brush in the beginning of the session and then you can help finish up.
Until your child has teeth with no space between them, flossing isn’t necessary. Flossing should begin when your child is around two to two and a half years old, and at least two teeth are touching. While your child can typically brush her teeth by herself by the time she is six, you will have to help with flossing until she reaches 8-10 years old.
Build your child’s oral care foundation early and her teeth and gums will be on their way to a healthy lifetime. If you have any questions or would like to schedule a consultation, give our team a call at 904-281-9988 today!