Meet Josh and Bridget’s new bundle of joy, Owen. As first-time parents, they have their hands full figuring out mess-free diaper changes, lightning-fast bottle making, and that magic rocking rhythm guaranteed to calm a fussy baby. They’re also discovering that even though he lacks teeth, Owen's oral health still requires attention.
Even though Owen’s first tooth won’t show up until sometime around 6 months of age, his gums still need to be wiped with a soft, clean cloth after each feeding to get rid of unwanted bacteria. Once the first tooth comes in, Josh and Bridget should use a small, soft-bristled toothbrush with a smear of fluoride toothpaste to keep Owen’s teeth and gums healthy. When two teeth touch, and his parents can’t clean between them with the brush, it’s time to start flossing.
Young children often swallow most of the toothpaste put on their brush, so use just a smear of fluoride toothpaste until age 2. After children turn 2, use a pea-sized amount and continue to supervise or brush their teeth for them. Make sure they spit out the excess. When children get too much fluoride while their teeth are still developing, it can cause a condition called dental fluorosis, which can leave barely noticeable light white spots or streaks on the teeth.
Speaking of those first few teeth, it’s likely that Owen will experience some discomfort as they make their debut. That means Josh and Bridget may also experience some discomfort in the form of frustration and sleepless nights as they try to soothe their little one. They can try teething rings, a cool spoon, a pacifier or a cold, wet washcloth to help ease the pain. Massaging his gums using a clean finger may also help.
When Owen’s first tooth finally comes through, his mom knows he needs to make his first dental appointment. By starting visits at age 1 or six months after the first tooth appears, Bridget is ensuring that her son develops a good relationship with the dentist from a young age and establishes a dental home for any future emergencies or problems. During the first checkup, the dentist will make sure everything is developing properly and provide a few tips on caring for a young child’s teeth.
Luckily, Josh and Bridget already have a good start on little Owen’s healthy habits. In addition to establishing a daily gum and teeth cleaning routine from the start, they know some of the other key elements for good infant oral health.
Even though they’re still learning the ropes when it comes to babies and everything that goes with them, Josh and Bridget have gotten off to a great start with Owen’s oral health. Because healthy primary teeth set the stage for a healthy permanent set, how they take care of Owen’s teeth in the first few years can have an impact for the rest of his life.