Wednesday, January 25

brushing baby's teeth

don't you just love those big toothy grins. it's a huge milestone. when teeth begin to come in, we get to feed those babies new foods. if there lucky, someone will slip them something sweet and sticky. just another reason we've got to take care of those precious little chompers.

do you know anyone that just loves a good teeth brushing. well, i do, but she's a weirdo. for most of us, it's a task that we don't mind getting out of the way. and, if we're in the mood, maybe we'll floss. that's why it's important to get started early. when you get into the habit of cleaning baby's gums, transitioning to brushing baby's teeth comes with ease. sure, baby teeth fall out. but, when those adult teeth come in, you won't get a second chance. getting baby used to daily cleanings will help develop heathy brushing habits. then, you won't to turn bedtime into a brushing battle.

start making it part of your daily routine.

begin by wiping gums

no teeth, no problem. start by cleaning the gums. until baby is 12 months old, you can gently wipe the gums with gauze or a wet washcloth. wiping the gums twice a day, morning and night, not only keeps them clean, but it gets baby used to the routine.

these 'green sprouts' silicone finger brushes are great for gums!

it may be to early for a toothbrush, but you can let baby watch you brush your teeth. before you know it, he'll want to brush "like mommy and daddy."

we put on the music and make brushing fun.

teething

teeth begin to emerge from 6 months to 3 years old. infants can soothe those gums with teething rings and wet washcloths. i had the most luck with the teething rings you can stick in the freezer. you can also try frozen washcloths. in a pinch, a clean finger does the trick. a soft baby toothbrush can relieve the pain and itching, but do not let baby crawl or walk around with a toothbrush in the mouth.

our favorite trick for was frozen fruit in a mesh feeder. the frozen fruit is perfect for gnawing on. with the mess pocket, you don't have to worry about choking.


brushing teeth

if you've been wiping gums twice a day, introducing a toothbrush for daily brushings will be a piece of cake...sugar-free, of course. as soon as that first tooth pops out, start brushing.

all you need is a soft baby toothbrush and water. if your little one needs a little convincing, you can use a tasty baby toothpaste. just be sure it doesn't have fluoride. fluoride can actually be harmful to babies when they get too much. so, it's best to avoid supplementing it until he reaches 18 months old.

around 10 months old, he'll be able to safely give it a go. by then, he'll have better balance when sitting. the last thing you want is for him to fall over and jam a toothbrush down his throat. by the way, i'm speaking from experience.

side by side brushing can be fun, cause he'll enjoy imitating you. once he's had a few minutes of practice, take over and follow up with a good brushing. he won't be able to get those teeth clean, so you'll have to do the real work.

i love the safety disk on the 'green sprouts' toddler toothbrush.


the dentist

the first visit to the dentist's office should be by his first birthday. meeting the dentist and becoming familiar with the office will make cleanings easier.

finger crossed he won't get a cavity. in the case he does get a cavity, having friends at the dentist's office will make that experience not so awful.

what to avoid

sugar: you may not be able to avoid sugar completely, but you can limit them. keeping foods like cereals, cookies, candies, and dried fruits out of the shopping basket will help keep cavities out of your baby's mouth. opt for teething toys and rings instead of teething biscuits which ironically have a high amount of refined sugars. things like cookies, cupcakes, and candy bars should only be given when you have absolutely no control over it...like at a birthday party. not only will avoiding these food keep teeth healthy, it'll keep baby healthy. developing healthy eating habits goes hand in hand with dental health.

bedtime snacks: get out of the habit of giving bedtime snacks. you might as well skip the bedtime brushing if you're gonna follow up with juice or milk or, worse, food. also, bottles and sippy cups should be kept out of the bed. when baby falls asleep with a bottle or sippy cup, the liquid pools in the mouth and on the teeth causing tooth decay (also know as bottle rot).

baby may love the bottle, but it's a good idea to introduce a sippy cup around 6 months old. getting him used to drinking out of a sippy cup will make bottle weaning easy when he's 12 months old. if you must give a bedtime snack, remember to brush those teeth before turning out the lights. going to bed with food, milk, or juice stuck on those teeth is a sure way to tooth decay.

this is how i weaned baby off the bottle.

juice: juice really should be avoided all together. it's pretty much liquid sugar and offers next to nothing as far as nutrients and vitamins go. a daily liquid multi-vitamin will give baby all the nutrients and vitamins needed. throw in a dose of DHA while you're at it. if you insist on serving juice, water it down to cut down the sugar and only serve it with meals or snacks. don't serve as stand-alone thirst quencher...that's what water is for.

fluoride: babies don't need fluoride supplements. they get enough from water (most local and bottled water contains fluoride). just like too little, too much fluoride can be bad for baby's teeth. fluorosis causes white spots to appear on teeth and can, if severe, contribute to tooth decay. it's recommended that you don't give fluoride toothpaste until baby reaches 18 months.

if you think your baby is lacking fluoride, talk to your pediatrician and/or dentist.

cheese

did you know that cheeses like cheddar, swiss, monterrey jack, and mozzarella help fight cavities? they activate the salivary glands. these mouth watering snacks help clear the mouth of left over food particles. also, the calcium and phosphorus in cheese helps rebuild enamel.

the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends eating cheese at the end of a meal and as a between meal snack!

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