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Start Early for Healthy Gums and Teeth

Even before babies have teeth, their mouths need the care to protect against potential damage and decay later in life. Here’s some expert advice:

Pacifiers

A pacifier doesn’t usually hurt jaw development or tooth alignment, provided they don’t use it constantly or stick to it for too long.

Pacifier nipples come in a few different shapes, from the rounder bottle type to flattened orthodontic versions with a wider tip. Orthodontic pacifiers are supposed to keep your baby’s jaws in proper alignment.

Tooth Care

You’ll want to clean your baby’s gums in the first few months. This is a low-tech operation; a dampened piece of gauze or washcloth works fine. Or you can buy finger cots, which you slip over your finger and rub along the gums. This can also help provide some relief when teething.

The dental care regimen needs to get more serious once tooth buds appear. As soon as teeth come in they can be targets for plaque. You want to brush two times a day. Use any children’s toothbrush with a small head and soft bristles. Once your child is a little older, a brush with a musical timer can help with learning how long to brush — 2 minutes at a time.

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Don’t forget to floss, which you should start to do as soon as baby’s first teeth come in side by side. Go in between the teeth gently.Ask your dentist:

  1. Are my baby’s teeth coming in normally?
  2. What signs of a tooth problem should I look out for?
  3. What can I do to prevent tooth decay?
  4. What foods can protect my baby’s oral health?
  5. Are fluoride drops needed in my water district?