Parenting

“Brushing Up” on Infant Dental Health

Your child’s new teeth may be temporary, but dental health lasts a lifetime. Keep your child’s smile bright and healthy with these tips:

  •  Baby teeth can arrive anywhere between 3 and 12 months, though the first tooth usually arrives when your child is about 6 months old. Before those teeth come in, get in the habit of cleaning your baby’s gums with gauze, a soft washcloth, or a finger brush. Clean the gums twice a day, once after breakfast and just before bed.
  • When teeth begin to erupt, you may notice gum discoloration, bruising, or an opening in the gum. These are all normal, but be sure to keep cleaning your baby’s gums twice a day to keep bacteria out and prevent cavities. Up to 2 months before the first tooth erupts, your child may experience pain and swelling in the gums. Your baby may be irritable, and drool a lot. To ease some of these symptoms, give your teething baby something to chew on safely — many experts recommend wetting a washcloth and freezing it for 30 minutes, then giving it to baby to chew on.
  • Once the first teeth have emerged (usually the lower front teeth or incisors), be sure to brush them daily with gauze or a soft, infant toothbrush. Don’t use toothpaste yet — Toronto water is already fluoridated, and doctors recommend holding off on toothpaste until age 3.
  • To prevent cavities, be careful about sharing utensils with baby. Your saliva may contain bacteria which can cause tooth decay in infants. Don’t let your child fall asleep with a bottle — the sugars in milk and juice may pool overnight and be quite harmful to their primary teeth.

Finally, be sure to see a dentist by the time your child is 1, or 6 months after the first tooth appears, whichever comes first.

Nicole Elliott

Nicole Elliott is a 4th year student at UofT, double majoring in Health Studies and Biological Anthropology. After graduation, she hopes to pursue a career in public health or medical anthropology, and she is especially interested in maternal and child health. She is pleased to join the Family Care Office as Workshop Coordinator and part-time "Intersections" contributor. When not at work or school, Nicole enjoys yoga, theater, getting lost in Toronto, and experimental vegan baking.

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