Did you know babies are born with teeth, but they are hidden under the gums? Primary teeth begin to form in your first trimester of pregnancy and are present inside your baby’s jaw at birth. Each baby has their own schedule for teething. On average babies get their first tooth around the six-month mark but they can emerge anywhere from three to fourteen months. Children have twenty teeth usually by the time they are 2.5-3years old.
Oral hygiene and dental care for babies is a topic we may not often think about as new mamas. There are so many things that are running through our minds including sleep, feeding, diaper changes, etc. Understandably, oral hygiene may get overlooked. But it is important to note that early oral care is essential for your little one’s health. Strong baby teeth aids in your child’s clear speech, and the ability to chew and eat their meals.
Did you know that dental care is important even before your baby gets their first tooth? Cleaning their gums is the easiest way to keep them healthy. Use a clean, soft, damp cloth and wipe it over your baby’s gums twice per day. Do this until their first tooth starts to pop through.
Once your baby has a tooth that breaks through their gums you can then start to “brush” their teeth with a soft-bristled toothbrush twice a day. The Canadian Dental Association recommends using fluoride for preventing tooth decay for people of all ages. Fluoride is a proven, effective, and safe way to prevent cavities as it aids in making the tooth enamel stronger and better able to resist tooth decay. Current recommendations support the use of fluoride toothpaste the size of a kernel of rice for children under the age of 3. Flossing can begin once their teeth start to touch each other. For children 3-6years of age, the amount of toothpaste increases to the size of a pea. When using this amount, you should teach your child to spit the toothpaste out and not swallow it. Always make sure to check the label of the toothpaste as not all of them contain fluoride. It is important to remember not to use more than the recommended amount for your child’s age. Some towns/cities add fluoride to the drinking water. If you are unsure if your water supply contains fluoride, call your local public health unit.
Early childhood tooth decay can occur when a baby goes to sleep with formula, milk alternatives, or breastmilk in their mouths. The American Dental Association advises that infants finish their nap or bedtime bottles before being placed in their crib. Brushing your baby’s teeth can be an essential part of their bedtime routine.
Current recommendations state that children should have their first dentist appointment by 12 months of age. It’s great to introduce them to their dentists early.
Questions? We are here to help! We are a team of Registered Nurses across North America who use evidence-informed research, and a HUGE dose of empathy with each family we work with. We are so much more than sleep. Reach out to a Mama Coach for advice and support on pregnancy, lactation and sleep for your family.