How to take care of your infant’s mouth

Having a new baby involves a lot of changes. When to feed the baby, when to change the baby, how to calm the baby, when can mommy eat and sleep?

As a dentist the first thing I say to a new mother is don’t forget to wipe their gums after feeding. How do you do this if the baby is feeding every 2-3 hours and you are sleep deprived? When I had my baby I didn’t even think about wiping the gums. I was trying to learn how to feed my baby and what the lactation consultant told me about nursing at home. After the 2nd week of birth my baby and I got into a system until I saw him spit up and there was white stuff all over his tongue. It was milk coating his tongue. It dawned on me that I wasn’t practicing what I was preaching. I quickly got a washcloth and dipped it in warm water and wiped his mouth. Please note that if the “white stuff” does not come off easily it might be a fungal infection. Please consult with your pediatrician.

Parents are here to educate their child. I had to come up with a system that I would remember and develop good habits for my baby. My suggestion is clean the baby’s mouth like you would yourself, in the morning and before bedtime. I would do it during his bath time in the morning and when I get him ready for bed in what I would consider the last feeding of the evening (even though I know there will be one in 3hours). Wipe an infant’s gums or teeth, especially along the gum line, with a soft cloth. You can use their bib, their wash or the commercial wipes sold. The baby doesn’t seem to mind this as long as it’s not immediately after a feeding where spit-up can occur. Be careful not to put your whole finger inside their mouth. That too can cause the baby to gag and spit up. This is just the minimum you should do. It is better if you can wipe the baby’s mouth after each feeding.

As your child grows older you can start brushing their teeth. You can first use the rubber finger with rubber bristles before the baby gets their teeth. It helps massage the gums especially during the teething period. The first teeth can start to appear at 6 months of age. When teeth start popping in start using a regular baby tooth brush. Brush the child’s teeth using a rice-sized or smear layer if under 2years old and pea sized (the size of a child’s pinky nail) amount of toothpaste if older than 2years old, especially before bedtime. Children older than 2 year old should use fluoride toothpaste or if they can spit out properly. Help your child brush their teeth until they are about 7 years old. Avoid putting the infant to bed with a bottle or sippy cup containing anything other than water. Avoiding saliva-sharing behaviors, such as kissing the baby on the mouth, sharing a spoon when tasting baby food, cleaning a dropped pacifier by mouth or wiping the baby’s mouth with a cloth moistened with saliva. For older children, avoid the sharing of straws, cups or utensils. Use a bottle or sippy cup between meals containing only water. Begin weaning children from at-will bottle and sippy cup use (such as in an effort to pacify a child’s behavior) by about 12 months of age. Choose fresh fruit rather than fruit juice to meet the recommended daily fruit intake. Regularly lift the lip and look in your child’s mouth for white or brown spots on the teeth. The first dental visit is 1years old or within 6months of teeth appearing in your child’s mouth.