Healthy gums are the foundation of healthy teeth, so it’s important to keep your child’s gums healthy and happy! Here are a few tips to make sure your child has healthy gums for years to come.
Keep an eye on the baby bottle
Baby bottle tooth decay (also known as bottle rot) occurs when sugary liquids, which can include formula, milk, breast milk and juice, are left in your baby’s mouth for an extended period of time. The result can be tooth decay, but there are ways to avoid it, and protect not only their teeth but their gums as well. Try not to let your baby go to bed with a bottle; this is one of the more frequent causes of baby bottle tooth decay as they fall asleep with a bottle in their mouth. Instead, feed when they’re awake and put them to bed having already gotten their fill. Here are a few more tips to avoid baby bottle tooth decay:
- Give babies only water in a bottle during a nap and bedtime.
- Wipe your baby’s gums with a clean, damp baby washcloth or gauze after mealtimes.
- Never dip a pacifier in sugar, honey, or other sweeteners.
- If your water is not fluoridated, ask your child’s dentist about fluoride.
- Avoid cleaning a baby’s pacifier with your mouth, sharing chewed food or using the same spoon.
- Schedule your baby’s first dental check-up by the time the first tooth comes in or by age one, whichever comes first.
Keep those gums clean
As mentioned before, you can keep your baby’s gums clean by gently wiping them with a clean, damp cloth after meals. Keeping baby gums clean allows you to discourage bacteria while also helping to relieve soreness from teething they may be going through. Dip a piece of clean gauze in water and wrap the cloth around your pointer finger (if your baby is teething, you can also wet a corner of the gauze and then place it in the freezer to help numb the soreness until it’s cool, not frozen). Gently rub the gauze along your baby’s gums at least twice a day. If your baby is eating some solid foods without teeth, you can repeat this step after each meal as needed. Keeping gums clean goes a long way towards keeping gums healthy.
Start brushing when the time is right
As your child’s teeth start to appear, generally around 6 months, it’s important to start brushing them. Gently brush each of your baby’s teeth, tongue side and cheek side, making sure you brush the gum line as well. Brush twice a day to insure teeth and gums are clean after meals. At first, you can simply wet the toothbrush. As soon as teeth erupt, you can start using a little bit of fluoride toothpaste, about the size of a grain of rice. You can increase this to a peas-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste when you child can spit.
You should brush your baby’s teeth until he or she has the dexterity to tie their own shows with their eyes closed.
Watch those sugar snacks
What kids eat can harm their teeth and their gums. Too much sugar has been shown to contribute to a host of health problems, gum disease being one of those issues. Kids want sweet treats occasionally and in moderation, a small sweet snack can be OK for kids. The problem is, when you put sugar in your mouth, the bacteria in the plaque feed off the sweet stuff and turn it into damaging acids. These acids are powerful enough to dissolve the hard enamel that covers your teeth and can cause gum issues as well. If you let your kids eat a sweet snack, be sure to have them brush right afterwards with a fluoride toothpaste to avoid these acids sitting in their mouth for too long or if you’re out and about, have them drink some water to wash some of those sugars away.
Visit the pediatric dentist early
Pediatric dentistry experts recommend that children have their first dental exam by the time they reach their 1st birthday, or as soon as the child’s first tooth erupts. Surprised at how soon that sounds? Don’t be! The sooner you start your child on regular dental visits, the sooner they become accustom to the event, and their fears will decline greatly (if they have any). Pediatric dentists are well-versed on easing your child’s fear of going to the dentist and can provide great tips such a games to help get your child ready for their dental visit each time to make the experience a bit more pleasant.
Following these simple suggestions will keep your child’s gums healthy and clean, and lay the foundation for healthy oral habits and a great smile!