Experts from Texas A&M University in the USA have reminded future parents that their baby’s dental health is directly affected by the mother’s dental and oral health. In fact, germs from mothers’ mouths are inevitably passed on to babies after birth.
The experts also shared a timeline on caring for children’s teeth to help parents get into good habits from day one.
American dental experts have reminded parents that it’s important to look after their child’s teeth from the word go, with good habits to adopt before, during and after pregnancy. As well as affecting her own health, the dental health of an expectant mother can also affect that of her baby, the experts stress.
“Statistically, mothers with poor oral health are at risk for premature and underweight births,” warns William Wathen, an associate professor at Texas A&M University Baylor College of Dentistry. What’s more, the germs and microbes present in the mother’s mouth will be passed to the child, since babies aren’t born with their own oral flora.
Although pregnancy is a time packed full with medical appointments, a trip to the dentist to check on oral and dental health is often overlooked by moms-to-be.
However, experts strongly recommend check-ups before, during and after pregnancy to identify any cavities or harmful microbes, and evaluate the consumption of high-sugar and high-starch foods, which are bad for teeth.
The dentists’ key recommendations are as follows:
A first trip to the dentist at six months old
The experts recommend taking baby for a first dental appointment between the age of six months and one year old. This should be followed by appointments every six months.
Use a finger or soft cloth to clean teeth
When the first teeth appear at around six months old, parents are encouraged to use a soft cloth to wipe teeth before and after feeds (or meals), then again at bedtime to remove any plaque and bacteria. They also recommend massaging baby’s gums with a little finger to get them used to having objects other than the nipple in their mouths. This can help prepare them for their first trip to the dentist.
No sugary liquids in baby’s bottle
Filling baby’s bottle with sugary drinks then letting them go to sleep is a surefire way to guarantee tooth loss, the dentists said.
Clean milk teeth with a small toothbrush
Parents can start cleaning their child’s milk teeth using a soft toothbrush with a small head and large handle in a gentle massaging action. Special infant toothpastes are safe to use, but the dentists recommend avoiding fluoride-rich toothpastes until the child is old enough to spit them out, which is usually around three or four years old.
A helping hand for twice-daily brushing
It’s not always easy, but parents should try to make sure they brush their child’s teeth — or help their child brush their teeth — twice a day until they are able to do it themselves, usually around seven or eight years old.
Advice on child tooth care from The American Academy of Family Physicians is available here.