Proper oral hygiene is essential for good oral health for people of all ages, including infants and toddlers. As a parent, the steps you take when your child is very young can make a big impact on the health of his or her gums and teeth in the future. Use the following tips to ensure that your young child has the best oral health possible:
Don't Wait to Start an Oral Hygiene Routine
It's never too early to start an oral hygiene routine-- young infants without teeth can still benefit from having their gums cleaned. All you have to do is use a soft, damp cloth or piece of gauze to gently rub the gums after each feeding-- this will help remove bacteria and keep the gums in good condition. In addition to keeping the mouth clean, cleaning the gums from a young age can make it easier for your child to tolerate having his or her teeth brushed or visiting the dentist when he or she gets older.
Never Allow Your Child to Fall Asleep Drinking Milk or Formula
Suckling is naturally soothing for a baby, and it is not uncommon for a young child to fall asleep while drinking a bottle of milk or formula. Some parents unknowingly make the mistake of giving their child a bottle at bedtime to help him or her fall a sleep, but doing this can have serious dental consequences.
When a baby falls asleep with a bottle, he or she often will not swallow all of the milk in his or her mouth, which leaves the milk to sit on the surface of the teeth. The sugars in the milk or formula feed the bacteria that leads to tooth decay, so a baby that falls asleep with a bottle of milk or formula is at great risk for decaying or rotting teeth. No matter how convenient it is to give your baby a bottle of milk or formula at bedtime, if you want to prevent him or her from needing extensive dental procedures to repair severely decayed teeth it is better to offer a pacifier.
Schedule Regular Dentist Appointments
According to the American Association of Pediatric Dentistry, you should schedule your child's first dental appointment no later than his or her first birthday. The first dental appointment will give your child's dentist the opportunity to examine the mouth and gums to ensure that there are no problems, and answer any questions that you may have about caring for your child's teeth.
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