“Being new parents is hard. Some days you will feel like you can do it all, and some days, you will struggle to even get out of bed. But what matters is that you still show up and that you love them with all that is within you. That is what being parents is all about”.
Parents are seen to be worried about their children and especially the new parents want everything to be perfect for their child. In this queue, the general as well as oral health is always the main concern of the parents. Oral cavity or mouth is considered to be the mirror of your overall health, and therefore, it becomes extremely important for everyone including the newborns to take proper care their oral or dental health. For the newborns, toddlers, and young children, the care of their oral health is taken care the parents including brushing, flossing, and tongue cleaning.
The most important question which the new parents usually ask is about the timing to start the oral care of their infact. Being an oral physician, I would recommend to start cleaning the gums and tongue of your infant as early as possible. It is a healthy practice to clean the mouth of your newborn after every breastfeed to clean any leftover milk residue. The tongue gets stained after breastfeeding the milk on which fungal infection may start developing. To avoid the growth of candida and other fungal infection, the tongue and gums should be properly cleaned with soft, and moist cotton swab.
Teething in a baby starts at about four months of age, but even before proper cleaning of the mouth is mandatory to avoid the build up of cottage cheese-like bumps that may transform in severe infection and cause pain and burning sensation in the mouth of infants while feeding.
Brushing of teeth should be started as soon as the first tooth appears in the mouth of baby to avoid any plaque accumulation on the newly appeared deciduous or milk tooth. This plaque can be formed after the baby eats any sugar-rich snack and soon the bacteria in the plaque will start to produce acid that will slowly dissolve the outer layer of the tooth, popularly called as enamel and lead to the formation of dental caries.
There are certain steps that need to be followed while cleaning the teeth and mouth of your infant such as
- Firstly, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water
- While holding your baby in one of your hands, start cleaning the gums using a gauze or soft fabric after dipping it in warm water.
- While using the circular motion, use the warm gauze to clean the tongue and gums of baby.
- Also, massage the inner cheeks and gums with fingers using gentle pressure
Make sure to wipe off all the milk residue from the tongue, gums, and other areas of the mouth with the help of warm and damp gauze or cloth. If it is not getting wiped off, then contact immediately with the oral physician to make sure if it is not thrust or oral fungal infection that has started to appear in your child’s mouth.
For a toddler, rice-grain sized toothpaste should be used with kid’s toothbrush to clear off all the debris including plaque accumulated on the tooth’s surface. Try using fluoride-free toothpaste at least till the babies are three years old or the time till they are able to spit all the contents. After about three years, the babies should be taught to use pea sized toothpaste to clean their teeth and remain caries free.
As parents, we always tend to worry about our children. But, with the help of doctors, dentists, and other health care professionals who are expert in their area, we can always provide good health to our infants and toddlers. As an oral physician, I would recommend to start cleaning your baby’s tongue, gums, and inner cheek area as soon as you start with the breastfeeding while teeth brushing is started only after the emergence of first tooth.
Besides, taking care of your baby’s health, try embracing each and every moment of your parenthood. These moments will never be repeated in life.