Pediatric dental care begins at birth. While the teeth do not come in until around 6 to 12 months, tooth buds are already present below the gums, still housed in the yet developing jawbone and alveolus. But brushing the gums is helpful, as it will regulate the pH of the baby’s mouth, and get them used to the idea that mom or dad is going to be poking around in there at least twice a day.
The best method is to buy a finger covering. These are like a condom fitted for your finger, with little ridges and bristles on the outside of it. They come in various sizes, and with different kinds of ridges and bristles, and sometime combinations of both ridges and bristles. There is also baby paste available, but if you just take a little bit of water, and poke around in their mouth, and let them chew and mouth your finger, this should be enough to remove any residual mother’s milk or formula. If you use a paste with really light amounts of fluoride and calcium, you will certainly be doing well for the oral health of your baby. Once there are teeth poking through, you need to get a baby toothbrush, one with extra soft bristles and brush them, even if the baby is not yet eating solid foods.
Breast milk is good for teeth because it has antibacterial properties, and because it is high in calcium, but that does not mean that it is good for teeth on the whole. Breast milk, and formula, which is modeled to have the same nutritional properties as breast milk, has especially high sugar content, and sugar is the worst thing for your teeth. Aside from this, breast milk does break down into further carbohydrates and fatty acids, all of which can fuel the growth of bacteria; it is, after all, biological fuel for growing mammals, so it makes sense that it would facilitate the growth of all life, including microbial life.
When brushing those first appearing little teeth, be very gentle, as the gums around it may be sore from teething, and the nerves are closer to the surface in a baby mouth than you would imagine. So be extra gentle, rub instead of scrape, and make sure you get all around the teeth, and remove any and all things stuck in them or caking them.
Brushing will take a lot less time than for grownups, as the teeth are much smaller than adult teeth, are much less worn, and there are fewer of them. Still, you should be spending roughly one or two minutes cleaning your children’s teeth. You should be very gentle, and try to make it fun, a thing that your kids can look forward to. Do it by rewarding them, or by making it a fun time, tell jokes, play games, brush your own teeth, let it be a family activity- the more fun it is, the more the kids will associate oral hygiene routines with positive things and good times, the more likely that they will have good oral hygiene as adults.
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