Most babies are born without visible teeth, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t there, waiting under the surface until it’s time to erupt. It’s literally never too early to get a jump start on your child’s oral health.
At the dental practice of Dr. Padmaja Yalamanchili in Fairfax, Virginia, our pediatric dentistry services are here to support your efforts as a parent to give your child the best start in life when it comes to oral health. Here’s how you can start at home before your child even has their first visit.
When should an oral hygiene regimen start?
Your baby may not have teeth yet, but they do have gums, and gums are ebay targets for bacteria. Follow these steps to help keep your baby’s mouth clean and protected from infection:
- Wipe their gums down gently with a wet, lint-free washcloth after every nursing or bottle feeding session.
- Offer water as an after feeding drink and as the final drink of the night once they learn to use a bottle or sippy cup.
- Never let your baby go to bed with a bottle full of milk or juice, as the sugars will stray in their mouth overnight.
Depending on your baby’s individual development, the time for their first visit is when the first tooth pops through the gum, or their first birthday, whichever comes first.
The first dental visit
Dr. Yalamanchili likes to make each baby's first dental visit as calm and low pressure as possible. If you’ve been taking care of your baby’s gums, it’s unlikely anything is wrong, so we can simply let your baby sit in the chair, explore their mouth, gums and any teeth gently. Show them all the cool tools we use, and try to do a light scrubbing with a toothbrush before a quick inspection to make sure everything looks right.
The goal is to make each visit to the dentist as stress free as possible for your child, so they associate the dental chair with fun and interesting things happening and not fear or anxiety. This makes it a lot easier to guide your child to good oral health habits as they grow.
Your child’s oral health timeline
After that first visit, we’ll want to see your child every six months to ensure their teeth are staying healthy and strong, as well as coming in evenly. We will show you exactly how to clean your child’s teeth at home as well, and provide the right kind of toothbrush and toothpaste for you to get started.
We always recommend making tooth brushing a family activity. Your child is more likely to brush their own teeth without complaint if they see you do it. At any rate, all kids under the age of eight need supervision and help when brushing and flossing.
Ideally, brush after each meal if you are at home. Once school starts, encourage your child to drink water after each meal and use a floss pick to get out any trapped food until they can get home and brush properly. Twice a day is the minimum, so instill a daily pattern of brushing when they get up, and again before they go to bed.
Need more information about pediatric dental care? Call Dr. Yalamanchili at our office at 703-213-5313 or book your appointment online today.