It is important to begin cleaning your baby’s mouth as soon as possible. Even before the eruption of the first teeth (which are the two front lower teeth), it is recommended to wipe your baby’s gums with a damp cloth after milk and before bed.
Upon eruption of the first teeth, begin using a small infant toothbrush to brush the teeth after milk and before bed. Use a little bit of water to soften the bristles of the toothbrush. Around the age of 3, begin incorporating fluoride toothpaste into the regimen by just using a small amount, about the size of the tip of a pen. By three and a half to 4 years old, the spaces between your child’s molars will start to close in, and flossing will become necessary. Make sure to help your child use the floss wands with the handle to access any closed contacts at least once a day. You should be helping your child with brushing and flossing until around the age of 8 to help keep the gums and teeth healthy.
Fluoride and xylitol both help to reduce the susceptibility to cavities. Fluoride works by strengthening the enamel of the teeth to prevent penetration of acids and bacteria, and xylitol works by reducing the cavity-causing oral bacteria. These ingredients can both be found in toothpaste and mouthwashes, and xylitol can also be found in gum and candies.
Sugar is the leading cause of cavities. High sugar intake is associated with a high cavity risk. It is essential to reduce the amount of sugar in your child’s diet, and in particular, to reduce the gummy, chewy, sticky sugars that get stuck in their teeth. Any food that will stick in the biting surfaces of the teeth will extend the exposure to sugar, increasing the risk for cavities. Make sure that if you give your child a daily multivitamin, that it is sugar-free.
Lastly, regular dental check-ups and cleanings are a vital component in keeping baby teeth healthy. Bacteria and stains will be removed from the teeth, and the teeth and gums will be assessed for health. Periodically, x-rays will be taken to evaluate for cavities on the in-between surfaces of your child’s teeth.