Oral Hygiene for Infants
A new born is like having a little piece of heaven to ourselves, they have the entire family dancing to their tunes, or rather should I say their cries, we love to fuss over them from the top of their heads to tips of their little toes. A range of products are researched for their care and only the best which satisfies our OCD is then allowed to be used on them! But how often are we able to extend the same care towards their oral hygiene? We understand being a new mum is over whelming and caring for your little baby is exhausting enough.
50% of children in the world are affected with dental cavities because proper oral hygiene practises were not instilled at the right time and in the correct way. Early childhood caries (ECC) is a universal problem affecting children from all strata of society, irrespective of whether they are born with a silver spoon or not!
The mouth is the gateway to the body. Everything that goes into your child’s body goes in through your child’s mouth. Everything that allows your child to grow and remain healthy is ingested through the mouth. A child’s quality of living reduces if the child has bad teeth. They can’t eat from certain teeth because those teeth hurt, they avoid smiling if their front teeth are spoilt, they avoid certain foods that start causing pain in their teeth. The full and healthy life that every parent wants for their child is not possible while there are decayed teeth in the mouth. Therefore, the mouth has to be kept healthy and clean from the day they are born.
But what do I clean when there are no teeth? You ask!
Before the milk teeth erupt (6 months of age) it is important to clean the mouth (I.e. the upper and lower gums and tongue).
What to use to clean your child mouth?
Dentist Auntie recommends using a clean soft cotton washcloth, the ones specially for babies. Sterilised gauze pads can be used, we prefer not to cut the gauze pads as this leaves loose strands at the ends which tends to be left back in your baby’s mouth.
Use clean water or boiled water which has been cooled to moisten the cloth. The overcautious parents can also use distilled water which is easily available at any local pharmacist.
How to hold your child while cleaning his or her mouth?
Sit on the bed or sofa and hold your child on your lap, while supporting his head with one hand.
How to clean?
Wrap the moist cloth around your index finger and slowly introduce it in your child’s mouth, he/she will open their mouth thinking you are trying to feed him/her. Remember to be gentle, avoid being overzealous.
How often should the baby’s mouth be cleaned?
Ideally you should use a washcloth moistened with water to wipe your babies gum pads, tongue, corners of their mouth 2 twice a day, in the morning and at night and create a routine of it.
Foundation for future habits
Wiping their gum pads even when teeth haven’t erupted is habit forming and also soothes them at the time of teething, when babies tend to get irritable due to the pain associated with eruption. This forms the basis of a lifetime of good oral hygiene practise because the child gets accustomed and transitions better to brushing his teeth twice a day.
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