Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The Littlest Patients

Congratulations on the new addition to your family!
     When you bring your new baby home from the hospital, you AND your baby will have plenty of new routines to get used to. One of them should be wiping his/her gums with a soft, wet washcloth at bath time. You could also use a little wet gauze for this purpose, but  I prefer the wash cloth.  You do not need to use any toothpaste yet. Simply wrap the cloth or gauze around your index finger and rub it gently over the gums.  Not only will you be cleaning the food residue away, you will also be getting your child accustomed to having their mouth cleaned. This way, when you need to begin brushing the teeth (around 6 months, when teeth  start erupting into the mouth) there will be no surprises and fewer objections.

If your child still hasn't gotten her first tooth by her first birthday,  relax – some children don't start getting teeth until 15 to 18 months.  Don’t worry.
     For now, you don't have to worry about flossing. (I know.. I can’t believe I’m saying that)   I recommend starting to floss only when the spaces between the teeth close,  and you can't clean them with a toothbrush.
The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry do recommend that you take your child to the dentist by her first birthday, but my own practice, I think any time before the age of two is just fine. Of course, if the pediatrician notes any oral/dental abnormalities during their routine visit, you should bring your child to the dentist as soon as possible.
      In the meantime, at every well-baby visit, your baby's primary healthcare provider should take a look at your baby's teeth (if she has any) and apply fluoride varnish every three to six months, depending on your baby's risk of cavities. (Some kids don’t need this at all)  As with all types of medical care, prevention is the best way to go !