Donald Powers, Christopher Justema
2555 Spring Arbor Road, Jackson, Michigan 49203
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Dental Care for Your Baby

Congratulations on the arrival of your baby! Are you prepared for the arrival of your little one’s first tooth? Follow these guidelines and your infant will be on the way to a lifetime of healthy smiles!

Caring for gums

Even before your baby’s first tooth appears, the gums can benefit from your careful attention. After breast- or bottle-feeding, wrap one finger with a clean, damp washcloth or piece of gauze and gently rub it across your infant’s gum tissue. This practice both clears your little one’s mouth of any fragments of food and begins the process of building a good habit of daily oral care.

Baby’s first tooth

When that first tooth makes an entrance, it’s time to upgrade to a baby toothbrush. There are usually two options: a long-handled toothbrush that you and your baby can hold at the same time, or a finger-puppet-like brush that fits over the tip of your pointer finger. In each case, the bristles are soft and few.

At this stage, toothpaste isn’t necessary; just dip the brush in water before brushing. If your little one doesn’t react well to the introduction of a toothbrush, don’t give up. Switch back to a damp washcloth for a few months, then try the toothbrush again.

During the teething process your child will want to chew on just about anything, and a baby toothbrush with a teether can become a favorite toy during this period.

Brushing with toothpaste

When a few more teeth appear, you can start using toothpaste with your child’s brush. For the first two years, be sure to choose toothpaste that does not contain fluoride, unless advised otherwise by your dentist, because too much fluoride can be dangerous for youngsters.

At this stage, use only a tiny amount of toothpaste. From the beginning, have your son or daughter practice spitting the toothpaste out after brushing to prepare for fluoride toothpaste, which should not be swallowed at any age.

Avoiding cavities

Don’t give your baby any sort of sweetened liquids such as flavored drinks or soda. Even the sugars in fruit juice, formula, and milk can cause decay (this goes for breast milk as well), so regular tooth and gum cleaning is vital.

Also, make sure your baby never goes to bed with a bottle. Sugary liquids in prolonged contact with his or her teeth are a guarantee for early-childhood decay, also called baby-bottle caries.

First visit to the dentist

It’s recommended that you bring your baby in for a visit within six months of the first tooth’s eruption — usually around the first birthday. Because decay can occur in even the smallest of teeth, the earlier your baby visits us, the more likely he or she can avoid problems.

We’ll look for any signs of early problems with your infant’s oral heath, and check in with you about the best way to care for teeth. Remember that preparing for each dental visit with a positive attitude goes a long way toward making your child comfortable with regular checkups.

Setting a good example

As part of the natural learning process, little ones are expert mimics, and you can take advantage of this talent. Brush and floss daily while your child is watching, and he or she will intuit at an early age the importance of your good habits.

As soon as your son or daughter shows interest, provide a toothbrush encourage your little one to brush with you. (You’ll find toothbrushes with chunky, short handles that are easy for children to grip.) Most kids don’t have the dexterity to clean their own teeth thoroughly until they’re about six or seven, so you’ll have to do that part of the job.

Try different tactics to make brushing fun: flavored toothpaste, a toothbrush with a favorite character on it, or singing songs about brushing. The primary goal is to instill healthy oral habits at an early age to set your child up for a lifetime of healthy, cavity-free teeth!

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