Until the First Teeth Arrive, How Do I Take Care of My Baby's Mouth? - Sunday Hug

Until the First Teeth Arrive, How Do I Take Care of My Baby's Mouth?

How can you take care of your baby's mouth before their first teeth arrive? Today we are going to learn how to take care of your baby's mouth before their teeth come through!

1. Until the first teeth appear, wipe their gums with a gauze handkerchief.

Baby teeth are clustered under the baby's gums. They have not yet come out of the gums, so they are just invisible to the naked eye. Therefore, it is recommended to massage the gums of a newborn baby. This is because if you stimulate their gums, your baby's teeth can rise up healthily.

From the newborn period, wipe the baby's mouth with a gauze handkerchief or wet gauze. When your baby drinks breast milk or formula, milk residues remain on their lips and gums. With the intention of wiping off the debris, you can also wipe the child's tongue and the inside of the cheeks. Gently wipe between the upper lip and gums as well.

baby mouth

Tip: If you brush your child's mouth from time to time from an early age, they will accept brushing without hesitation even after their first tooth come through. Pay attention to oral care from birth! 

2. Stop them from falling asleep while biting the milk bottle.

Milk disease caries or infantile caries refer to rapidly progressing cavities in the four upper front teeth in children under the age of 2 years. If they have a habit of sleeping with a bottle or their mother's milk in their mouth, it is easy for a child to develop bottle caries. When the baby sleeps, the secretion of saliva decreases and the cleaning effect of saliva in the mouth decreases. This means that bacteria multiply in the accumulated breast milk or milk, which can cause tooth decay.

The characteristic feature of caries in infancy is that white bands appear on the gums of the front teeth, and the teeth decay quickly. To prevent caries in infancy, it is better not to get into the habit of letting your child sleep while biting a bottle. When breast milk or milk remains stagnant between teeth, it is fermented by bacteria in the mouth and tooth decay occurs.

Therefore, the habit of breastfeeding or formula feeding your baby while they are sleeping should be gradually reduced. After breastfeeding or formula feeding, be sure to wipe the baby's mouth with a handkerchief. Keeping an 'eat-play-sleep' routine is also important for your baby's dental health.

baby drinking milk

3. Do not kiss a newborn baby or share a spoon. 

Caries are caused by bacteria in the mouth (Bacillus mutans). There are no bacillus mutans bacteria in the mouth of a newborn baby. However, when a parent with tooth decay kisses a child's mouth, tooth decay bacteria are transmitted through saliva. According to the results of one study, about 90% of tooth decay bacteria in children 19 to 33 months old are transmitted from the mother.

In addition to kissing, tooth decay is transmitted when parental saliva enters the child's mouth. Be careful not to share a spoon with your child, and also be careful not to spread your saliva when you bite the side dishes that you share, or when you feed your child food after you blow it out.

4. Even a breastfed baby can get cavities!

Breast milk contains sugars just like regular food. The milk residues accumulated on the teeth are decomposed by bacteria, and the acid generated at this time damages the enamel of the teeth, causing tooth decay. To put it simply, no matter what food you eat, it becomes a problem as it stays on your teeth for a long time, whether it is breast milk, rice, or candy.

In addition, breast milk has a higher lactose content and a lower calcium and phosphorus content, so it is more likely to induce caries than milk. So, the basic principles are the same for both breastfed and formula-fed babies. After the baby suckles, thoroughly clean the inside of their mouth with a toothbrush or gauze handkerchief.

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Author: Dentist Han Woo-ram
- CEO of 'Seoul Hans Smile Dental Clinic' at Giheung Station, Yongin
- Graduated from Seoul National University College of Dentistry