When you're a first-time parent, you have a lot to learn in a short amount of time. One of the things you need to learn about is proper dental care for your baby. You might think that you've got a while to wait, especially if your baby doesn't have teeth yet. However, it's never too early to start caring for your baby's dental hygiene. This is particularly true where tooth decay is concerned. You might not realize this, but your baby can experience the beginning stages of tooth decay before their first tooth emerges. Here are four steps you can take to keep tooth decay away from your baby's developing teeth.
Limit Bedtime Bottles
When it comes to baby tooth decay, the first step you should take begins at bedtime. It might seem safe to send your baby to bed with a bottle of formula, or juice. However, the sugar found in formula and juice can actually pool around your baby's teeth, setting off a chain reaction that can cause tooth decay. The sugary liquids soften the enamel, which creates the perfect environment for decay. Protect your baby's teeth by limiting bedtime bottles to water only.
Keep Baby's Gums Clean
Even before your baby has teeth, you need to start cleaning their mouth. Not only will the daily cleanings help your baby prepare for the eventual toothbrush, but it will also help remove germs and bacteria that can cause harm to the developing teeth. Take a baby wash cloth and get it wet. Use the tip of the cloth to wipe your baby's gums. Be sure to get between the gums and your baby's cheeks. That's where bacteria loves to hide. Once your baby has their first tooth, you can start using a soft baby toothbrush. However, it's still a good idea to continue cleaning their gums with a soft cloth until they have more teeth.
Don't Share Your Saliva
It's not unusual for parents to clean a pacifier off by placing it in their own mouth, or to share a spoon when offering bites of food. However, adult saliva can actually breed gum disease and tooth decay. Instead of putting your baby's dental health at risk, keep a spare pacifier on hand for those occasions when they happen to drop theirs on the floor, and don't share your spoon.
Start Dental Checkups Early
You know that you should be seeing your dentist twice a year. However, you might not realize that your baby should be seeing the dentist too. In fact, you shouldn't wait until they have a mouthful of teeth to schedule their first dental checkup. Your baby should actually have their first dental visit as soon as their first tooth erupts. The early visits will allow the dentist to monitor the development of your baby's teeth, and help your baby develop a comfortable relationship with their dentist.