Your baby’s first tooth is cause for celebration, but you may begin questioning how to provide proper dental hygiene as well as pain relief for your baby. Thankfully, there are ways you can help make the teething experience easier for everyone and to give your baby a good, healthy start.
1. Schedule a dentist appointment
Once you see that first tooth appear, it’s time to make a dentist appointment. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends a child’s first dental visit should be by age 1, or within 6 months of the first tooth’s appearance. Taking your child to a dentist’s office that primarily has young children as patients is the best option because the dentist and staff know how to make sure your child has the most comfortable experience. Building a regular routine of dental care, especially in a kid-friendly office, makes it easier to build lifelong dental habits.
2. Brush their teeth (or tooth)
The sooner you start brushing your child’s teeth, the better. Infants should not be given toothpaste, but getting them used to brushing is still important. Infant toothbrushes are smaller and much gentler, and some come with safe, fluoride-free “toothpaste” that won’t be harmful if some is swallowed. Once the child reaches age one, a rice-sized dab of regular fluoride toothpaste may be used, increased after age 3 to a small, pea-sized amount. Never use an excessive amount of toothpaste for any child under age 6 to keep them from swallowing too much, and always ensure a child using fluoride toothpaste does so under adult supervision. As you’re brushing their teeth, make sure it’s fun or entertaining so they don’t dread the experience. Also, try to make it part of their bedtime routine so they go to sleep with a clean mouth.
3. Give them water with fluoride
Water is an excellent source of fluoride. While we do not advise giving babies under 6 months plain water, many parents use tap water instead of bottled to mix into formula. However, it is important to note that providing baby with fluoridated water mixed with formula may increase the risk of dental fluorosis, which appears as white streaking on the teeth. This condition is not painful and does not affect tooth functionality or health. But once your baby’s first tooth appears, sipping water with fluoride can protect them from early tooth decay.
4. Have the right treatments ready for teething pain
Even before that first tooth appears, your baby might be fussing at their mouth because their gums hurt. Prepare early on so you have everything you need for that first tooth and the following teeth. Opt for solid, frozen teething rings, a frozen washcloth, or massaging their gums with your fingers. That combination of cold and pressure is soothing. Avoid unhealthy or potentially hazardous tools like teething biscuits or numbing gels or tablets. Also be sure to have some acetaminophen and ibuprofen on hand to help alleviate discomfort, particularly during sleep.
For more information or questions about your child’s teething process, contact us today.