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Foundations of Infant Oral Health: A Guide from Pediatric Dentistry of Palo Alto

Welcoming Your Baby’s First Smile

The arrival of your baby’s first tooth is a milestone in their development and the beginning of a lifelong journey towards optimal oral health. At Pediatric Dentistry of Palo Alto, we’re here to support you every step of the way, from the first gum care routines to the emergence of your child’s first pearly white. By following these foundational guidelines, you can ensure your child embarks on the path to a healthy smile.

Early Gum Care

Proper oral care starts even before the first tooth appears. After each feeding, gently cleanse your baby’s gums with a clean, damp washcloth or a piece of gauze wrapped around your finger. This simple routine helps remove food particles and sets the stage for healthy oral care habits that will last a lifetime.

A mother and a baby

The Arrival of the First Tooth

With the appearance of your baby’s first tooth, it’s time to introduce a baby toothbrush. Options include brushes with long handles for shared handling and finger-puppet-style brushes for easier control. Initially, water is sufficient for brushing; toothpaste is not necessary until more teeth appear. If your baby is resistant to the toothbrush, revert to using a damp cloth for a while before trying again.

Preventing Cavities

To avoid cavities, steer clear of giving your child sweetened liquids and be mindful of the natural sugars in juice, formula, and milk. Consistent cleaning of teeth and gums is essential. Ensure that your baby does not go to bed with a bottle, as prolonged exposure to sugary liquids can lead to early-childhood decay, or “baby-bottle caries.”

Setting a Positive Example

Children learn by imitation, so let your child see you practicing good oral hygiene. Sharing the brushing experience can be fun and encouraging for them. Although most children lack the coordination to brush effectively until they’re about six or seven, early encouragement of good habits lays the foundation for a lifetime of oral health.

animated kids

Introducing Toothpaste

As more teeth make their debut, you can begin to use a small amount of fluoridated toothpaste, no larger than a grain of rice. Early on, teach your child the importance of spitting out toothpaste after brushing. This practice is crucial as toothpaste should not be swallowed at any age.

Your Baby’s First Dental Visit

We recommend scheduling your baby’s first dental visit within six months of the first tooth’s eruption, ideally around their first birthday. Early visits allow us to detect any potential issues promptly and provide you with the best advice for caring for your baby’s teeth. A positive attitude towards dental visits can significantly influence your child’s perception of dentistry.

Partnering with Pediatric Dentistry of Palo Alto

Located at 325 Sharon Park Drive, Suite D3, Menlo Park, CA, Pediatric Dentistry of Palo Alto is dedicated to guiding families on the journey of early oral care. Dr. Adams, Dr. Jon, and our team are here to support your child’s dental health from the very beginning.

To learn more about infant oral health care or to schedule your baby’s first dental visit, please contact us at (650) 321-6448. Let us be a part of your child’s journey to a lifetime of healthy smiles!

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