From the NC Dental Society
CARY — Did you know 20 primary teeth are present in a baby’s jaws at birth? Newborn teeth can begin coming through the gums as early as six months, and strong dental care from the start will ensure protected teeth for years to come. The North Carolina Dental Society suggests things you can do at home to encourage healthy oral habits from day one.
“Some infants suffer from sore or tender gums and may have a low-grade fever when baby teeth first come in,” said Dr. Jasper Lewis, Jr. in Greenville. “Use a clean teething ring or gently rub your newborn’s gums with your finger or a wet gauze pad to sooth the pain. If the pain doesn’t subside and your baby is still fussy, consult your dentist.”
Here are five simple ways for new parents to care for your infant’s teeth:Clean gums with gauze – As early as the first few days after birth, wipe your newborn’s gums with a clean, moist gauze pad or washcloth to prevent cavities and decay.
Recognize that breastfeeding may build a better bite – A 2015 study from Pediatrics found babies exclusively breastfed for six months were less likely to have open bites, cross bites or overbites.
Refrain from putting baby to bed with a bottle – Be wary of sending your infant to bed with a full bottle of formula, milk or fruit juice. Prolonged exposure to sugary drinks can cause baby bottle tooth decay.
Brush as soon as the first tooth comes in – The day the first tooth emerges, you should begin brushing baby’s teeth with children’s toothpaste twice a day. Beginning around age three, you may begin using a pea-sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste.
Schedule a dental visit by the first birthday – If you don’t schedule a visit when the first tooth comes in, be sure to see your dentist before your baby turns one. During subsequent childhood visits, your dentist will monitor to ensure baby teeth are falling out at the right time and permanent teeth are coming in when and how they should.
Baby teeth are critical to your child’s health and development. Strong, healthy baby teeth help your child chew, speak and smile, while prepping for permanent teeth growing under the gums. Visit www.mouthhealthy.org for more information about how to care for your newborn’s teeth.