Maintain good dental health in your infant
You can begin to care for your baby’s dental health during pregnancy; explore helpful information to ensure that your child has healthy, disease-free teeth.
A child’s teeth begin to form around a women’s third month of pregnancy. It is very important that pregnant mothers get enough calcium, protein, phosphorous, vitamins A, C and D along with other minerals. Without these things, a baby’s teeth will not develop properly. Often times an infant’s front teeth begin pushing through the gum between 4 and 10 months old. This can cause excessive drooling and fussiness. You can help your baby’s teething by gently rubbing his gums with a clean finger or wet gauze. A wet frozen washcloth or teething ring may help too. Ask your pediatrician about over the counter pain relief medications for teething.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2010) says that tooth decay is perhaps the most common infectious disease in children. About 25 percent of children ages 2 to 5 have been affected by tooth decay, and some younger children may suffer from bottle tooth decay. When a baby is put to bed with bottles of formula, breast milk or other liquids with sugar, bacteria can grow in the pools of excess liquid around the teeth and create acid that wears down the enamel coating on their teeth.
You can prevent cavities and tooth decay in many ways in your child. One way is by keeping your child’s diet low in sugar. Another way is to wipe your baby’s gums with a wet soft cloth after each feeding, starting the first few days after birth. When the teeth finally break through the gums you should start brushing your child’s teeth with a very soft, child size tooth brush and water twice per day. Usually around 2 years of age a child can start to spit. This is when you can start to add a very small pea size amount of toothpaste to your child’s tooth brush. Flossing is important to focus on when the child’s teeth start to touch each other. Providing a well-balanced diet is very important in dental health. Adequate calcium is extremely important. You can find calcium in formula; breast milk; regular milk; cheeses and yogurt; dark green, leafy vegetables and orange juice with added calcium.
For more articles on child development, parenting and life skill development, please visit the Michigan State University Extension website.