Did you know that your parents’ oral hygiene routine for you as an infant or the habits you had as a small child could have had an effect on your smile even as an adult? Here, we will discover ways you can give your child a healthy foundation for their smile by creating healthy habits.
- Nighttime feeding
Before your infant even has any teeth, use a clean, warm, damp cloth or finger brush to cleanse your infant’s tongue and gums after each feeding. Once your little one has their first tooth erupting it is especially important to wipe clean their tongue, gums, and teeth after a nighttime feeding. This is because the sugary film of unswallowed breast milk or formula compromises the enamel and increases the probability of decay.
- Weaning from nighttime feeding
When your infant is 6 months old they can begin learning to sleep through the night without feedings, this is commonly referred to as night weaning. By this age, they are probably eating higher amounts of solid foods thus reducing their need for breast milk or formula throughout the night. As your infant night weans, and you provide them with enough solid food before they drift off into dreamland, they may still be awoken during the night, but usually for another reason.
- Prolonged thumb sucking & pacifier use
Avoiding the use of a pacifier altogether takes yet another weaning off the list. If you find you must use a pacifier or your baby sucks their thumb it is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry to wean them of this by their third birthday. The face, jaw, and tooth positions of your child are developing, and prolonged thumb sucking or pacifier use can cause speech issues and improper mouth and facial development. It is imperative to wean your child from thumbsucking and pacifier use as early as possible.
- Sugary and acidic foods or drinks
Sugary and acidic foods and drinks such as fruits, fruit juices, sodas, sports drinks, and carbohydrates cause bacteria growth in your child’s mouth. This bacteria is what damages the tooth’s enamel and leads to decay. The healthiest option is to avoid the unnecessary use of as many sugary and acidic foods and drinks as possible. The fact remains that a healthy amount of fruit is essential to a well-balanced diet, which is why brushing after eating fruits or drinking fruit juices is a must.
- Dental visits
When your infant gets their first tooth the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that you schedule their initial visit with a pediatric dentist. Introducing your infant to a pediatric dentist and maintaining their regular dental appointments will start familiarizing them with the atmosphere, the dental professionals, and what to expect. The dental professionals within a pediatric dental practice are uniquely equipped and trained to care for infants and young children.
Maintaining a regular oral hygiene routine at home is a great way to instill a lifelong oral hygiene routine in your child. Pediatric dental professionals can monitor your routine and offer suggestions on your infant’s oral needs as they grow. Contact our office to schedule your infant’s initial visit with our pediatric dentist and we can provide you with more information about creating a healthy oral hygiene foundation.