Three Myths About Dental Care For Babies

There is a lot of misinformation circulating about how to best care for babies, and dental care is no exception. Well-meaning friends or family members may give you advice about caring for your newborn that is not accurate and could put their future dental health at risk. Here three myths about dental care for babies that you shouldn't believe.

Babies don't need their mouths cleaned

Your baby doesn't have any teeth yet, but that doesn't mean that their mouth doesn't need to be cleaned. After your baby eats, some of the sugary breastmilk or formula will remain inside their mouth. The bacteria inside their mouth will feed on the sugar, and this may leave them with bad breath.

Plaque also accumulates inside babies' mouths, just like it accumulates in the mouths of older children or adults. This plaque can irritate their gum tissue and make them uncomfortable.

To avoid these problems, try to remember to clean your baby's gums after each feeding. If your baby is a newborn and still needs to be fed very frequently, you may find it difficult to wipe their gums this often, but try to do it as much as you can. You can use a wet washcloth to gently wipe down their gums; you don't need to use toothpaste and a toothbrush at this age. A piece of wet gauze wrapped around your finger is also appropriate.

Baby teeth don't matter

Your baby will develop their first teeth at some point between the ages of six and 10 months. The first teeth to erupt are the lower central incisors, which are the teeth in the front of the bottom jaw, and the rest of their teeth should be in place before their third birthday.

You may think that these baby teeth don't matter since they're going to fall out soon anyways—their baby teeth will start falling out at around six or seven years old—but this is not the case. The baby teeth reserve the spaces that the adult teeth will need later, so it's important that they aren't lost early due to decay. These teeth also help your child learn to speak properly.

The truth is that you need to care for your child's baby teeth just as well as you would care for your own adult teeth. Make sure to brush their teeth twice a day, starting as soon as their teeth erupt. Daily flossing is also essential.

Babies' teeth should be brushed with toothpaste

Everyone knows that adults need to brush their teeth with toothpaste, but you may not know that you shouldn't use toothpaste for babies. The reason for this is that babies are not able to spit out the toothpaste like you can, so they end up swallowing it. Depending on the type of toothpaste, they can get a sore stomach or diarrhea.

Until your child reaches the age of two, don't use toothpaste when you brush their teeth. Simply use a baby toothbrush and water to gently rub plaque from their teeth. Brush gently to avoid irritating there; there's no need to vigorously scrub their teeth.

Once they're old enough to spit out toothpaste, you can start using a fluoride-free toothpaste that is designed for infants and toddlers. Don't use your own toothpaste to brush your young child's teeth: they don't usually like the mint flavor that adults prefer. Sweet toothpastes that taste like bubblegum or fruit are better choices for infants.

To ensure you set your child up for a lifetime of good oral health, don't believe any of these myths about dental care for babies. If you have any questions about how to best care for your baby's mouth and developing teeth, take them to a dentist.