Your baby’s first tooth hasn’t even erupted yet…
Do you really need to worry about oral care yet?!?
Short answer: Yes.
While most babies start to have their first teeth make an appearance around the 4-10 month mark, some baby teeth can erupt much sooner (even in utero!). It’s important that you prepare early to give your baby’s teeth a clean and harmful-bacteria-free space to make an entrance into the world.
We know, we know, there are a LOT of things to think about when you have a new baby joining your family, especially if you’re a first-time mommy or daddy...but that’s why we’re here! To give you a few helpful tips so you can raise your little potato to have the best and brightest smile.
In this article, we’re going to lay out a 3-Step Guide for Newborn Oral Care and some basic infant dental care ABCs to keep in mind as your little one grows every day.
Before we do that though, let’s talk about a few facts about infants and their dentition that you need to know:
- Most first teeth erupt around 6 months, but the normal range for infants can be between 4 and 10 months. Some babies don’t even see their first tooth until their first birthday!
- Most youngins will have their full set of milk teeth by the age of 3 years
- Some signs of teething (the process by which a tooth erupts) include drooling, coughing, biting on any and all objects, fever, diarrhea, touching of the face and ears, and general crankypants behavior
- Teething for a particular tooth lasts about 8 days on average - 4 for before the tooth comes in and 4 for after the tooth comes in
Ok, now that you know a few basic facts about infant dentition, here’s that little handy-dandy 3-step guide for oral care for your infant:
ORAL CARE FOR NEWBORNS: A 3-STEP GUIDE
#1: Clean your infant’s gums after every feeding! Even when they’re a newborn. How? Wrap a super-soft moistened washcloth around your finger or use soft surgical gauze and gently massage it over your baby’s gums. Don’t forget to get the front and backsides too!
#2 Start brushing right after that first tooth erupts! Get a made-for-baby brush like the RADIUS PURE BRUSH. This brush is BPA-free with rounded edges and super soft bristles to be pain-free and easy to use. Use this brush with a grain-sized amount of cavity-fighting baby-safe toothpaste like RADIUS Organic Baby Friendly Toothpaste. This toothpaste comes in great baby-food-approved flavors like coconut banana and dragon fruit. Be sure to brush that tooth 2 times a day like you do with your own teeth.
#3 Don’t skimp on the dentist! The first time you see a pearly white poke through, be sure to schedule an appointment with a dentist. Regular check-ups right from the get-go will ensure your baby’s teeth are coming in just as they should and set the precedent for a lifetime of good dental care.
Now that you know the steps of properly caring for your infant’s teeth, we thought we’d throw in a few extra things to keep in mind with our ABCs of infant oral care. (Don’t worry, there won’t be a quiz and you do not have to memorize any of this….it’s just a handy little add-on to keep in mind on your parenthood journey.)
THE ABCs of INFANT ORAL CARE
A is for acetaminophen (i.e. what’s found in Tylenol). If teething pains get really bad, a very small dose of acetaminophen can help. Be sure to read carefully for proper dosage and do not give your baby aspirin under any circumstance as it has been linked to Reye’s Syndrome, a potentially fatal condition.
B is for bottle. Don’t leave the bottle in with the baby! Yes, your baby might love his or her bottle, but this doesn’t mean they should take it to crib with them. When a baby falls asleep with the bottle in their mouth, they are at greater risk for sugar collecting in their mouth and stimulating the growth of harmful bacteria.
C is for cold. Cold teething rings and apple slices can help soothe sore gums. Want a list of other GREAT and effective teething hacks? We compiled all these teething hacks, just for you!
D is for dental decay. Be sure to check for common signs of dental decay when your babies’ first teeth come in: discoloration of teeth, red or swollen gums, and holes or breaks in teeth.
E is for erythritol. Erythritol is the organic cavity-fighting agent in RADIUS’s organic baby toothpaste. It can be a healthy and safe alternative to fluoride.
F is for fluoride. Most likely, your baby will have a bit of fluoride through drinking water to help fight cavities...but, since there has been quite a bit of controversy on ingesting excessive fluoride, remember that fluoride isn’t the only cavity-fighting agent as mentioned above!
G is for gums. Don’t forget to clean them even when there’s no teeth to be seen! If they are red or swollen, be sure to be extra sensitive.
H is for holding. Holding your newborn in one arm and cleaning with the other can be a great way to bond with baby and make them feel at ease during this new process.
I is for incisors. The first tooth to erupt is typically one of the lower central incisors (i.e. most likely your infant will sporting the upside down buck tooth look for a while!)
J is for joy. Don’t forget, like with every new adventure with your infant, to look for the joy even through the frustration. I mean, really, how adorable does your baby look holding that baby-sized toothbrush? Answer? Super adorable. And we haven’t even seen your baby. We just know.
K is for knowledge. Make sure you are in-the-know about the latest in oral care for your baby. Methodologies for care and teething can change over the years and it’s good to be aware of the current literature. After all, there’s a reason we don’t put whiskey on baby’s gums for teething anymore!
L is for low-grade fever. If your baby has a low-grade fever (i.e. between 98.7°F and 100.4°F) around teething time, never fear! This is a common symptom for teething babies.
M is for mirroring. Babies start mirroring between 6 and 8 months. Translation: if you want to get your baby to open wide to take care of their teeth, try doing it first!
N is for nursing. Like us, remember that the best time to clean is after eating. Be sure to clean after nursing your little one.
O is for oral thrush. While it is common to see white on your baby’s gums and tongue from milk residue, if the white spots aren’t easily wiped away with a damn washcloth, you may want to check in with your pediatrician to make sure your baby doesn’t have oral thrush, a fungal infection.
P is for plaque. Plaque buildup has no age limit, which is why it’s important to start oral care early.
Q is for quiet. Try a quiet, calm space when cleaning so your baby associates a happy and safe feeling with cleaning.
R is for rice. Not sure how much toothpaste to use when you first start brushing baby’s teeth (or tooth)? Try this rule of thumb: Nothing larger than a grain of rice!
S is for spit. Keep in mind that while newborns spit up, they won’t and can’t learn to spit after brushing for quite a while. Therefore, it’s important to clean out excess toothpaste after brushing!
T is for tongue. Remember that bacteria can also collect on baby’s tongue so be sure to gently clean their tongue as well as gums with a damn washcloth. Once you begin using a toothbrush with their first tooth, you can use the brush to softly brush their tongue as well.
U is for upright. I.e. the proper way you should store your baby’s toothbrush once you start brushing. Just like your adult toothbrush, harmful bacteria can collect on the brush if they are not stored properly.
V is for vegetable-derived bristles. RADIUS Pure Brush features vegetable-derived bristles for a sustainable, non-toxic clean!
W is for wipes. There are newborn teething wipes out there that you can use as an alternative to the damp washcloth. Just make sure they are ultra-soft, as your baby’s gums are super sensitive.
X is for x-rays. X-rays aren’t typically needed for infant dentition, but check with your pediatrician.
Y is for you. Harmful bacteria is transmissible. Although tempting, don’t test a bottle’s temperature with your mouth or share spoons with your baby as you may be passing on that harmful bacteria to your baby. In that respect -- be sure to pay attention to anything that goes in your baby’s mouth!
Z is for zero. By this we mean that anything you introduce into your baby’s mouth should have zero harmful chemicals or additives! This includes both toothpaste and toothbrushes. Be sure to get a toothbrush that is synthetic-dye free and toothpaste that is organic and au natural.
We hope his 3 step guide and these ABCs help you and your baby to have happy and healthy smiles for many, many, many days to come.
Congratulations, parents, on the new addition to your family! You’ve got this.