Good dental care for your baby actually begins before he or she is born. It begins with you, the mother. It’s important to continue proper dental hygiene during pregnancy and special attention may be needed at this time, because red and tender gums that bleed easily, maybe caused by increased hormone levels. Snacking too often on food that has a high level of sugar can also lead to tooth decay.
What you eat can also affect the development of your unborn baby’s teeth. The baby’s teeth begin to form between the third and sixth month of pregnancy and during that time, it’s important the right nutrients be provided in sufficient amounts.
Nutritional deficiencies may result in abnormal formation of your baby’s primary teeth. All 20 of your baby’s primary teeth (also called baby teeth) are actually present in the jawbone at birth and usually appear before the age of three.
When your new baby arrives, so should dental health and education. Even though the first teeth are not visible, they will arrive shortly and good dental hygiene is important even at this early stage. The use of a dampened gauze pad or face cloth to wipe the gums after the baby has been fed either from a bottle or nursing is a good idea. If bottle-feeding is used, some special considerations should also be taken into account. Tongue, lip and cheek positions help develop a proper form for the upper and lower jaws in preparation for the eruption of the first teeth, so the proper selection of nipple and pacifier is very important.
Be sure to ask your pediatrician about nipples and pacifiers that stimulate natural swallowing and tongue habits.
As soon as teeth appear in the mouth, decay can occur. One form of tooth decay seen in infants is a condition called “nursing bottle mouth,” which can occur when an infant is allowed to drink formula, milk, fruit juice or sugar water during ‘walkabouts,’ naps or at night.
If such liquids are allowed to pool around an infant’s teeth for extended periods, the teeth can be attacked by acids and decay can result. So if you give your baby a bottle at nap or bedtime, water is recommended.
The correct care of your newborn baby’s teeth is vital for the proper growth and development of his or her long-term oral health.
Yours for better dental health,
Dr. Russell Grover