How should you implement a good oral hygiene routine? You can start even while pregnant and during the child’s early years.
Advisor: Mónica Durán
Pediatric dentist, practitioner at Coomeva Private Healthcare
Being parents, especially for the first time, many questions arise regarding the health and care of the baby. One of these common questions is about the child’s oral health, which is so fundamental in their development. Here are three important aspects to keep in mind to ensure good oral health for life.
1. The first consultation
The first tooth emerges when the baby is about six months old, however, the Colombian Academy of Pediatric Dentistry encourages the first consultation in this specialty during the last trimester of pregnancy, where the parents will learn how to prepare for breastfeeding, which, according to pediatric dentist Mónica Durán, directly influences the baby’s oral health. “It promotes the development of the bones and muscles in the face that are responsible for sucking and swallowing; this helps the baby chew more easily and better digest harder textures later on, when complementary feeding starts.”
If this prior consultation is not possible for the mother, it is important to schedule it when the baby is born. “These first encounters help us detect any anomalies in the oral structures and allow us to provide instructions on feeding and hygiene,” she adds.
2. Cleaning routine
From the baby’s birth, it is important to clean their gums every night; this can be done with gauze or a silicone finger brush. A hygiene routine with extra soft bristles and toothpaste (that does not foam) should start when the first tooth appears. It is recommended to brush two times per day for two minutes.
How much toothpaste should be used? Doctor Durán answers that, if the baby is between 6 to 18 months, an amount smaller than half a grain of rice should be used. From 18 months to 3 years, you can use the size of a whole grain of rice, and from 3 to 6 years old, the amount should be similar to the size of a lentil. There are special toothpastes for babies, but the biggest difference they have with the others is the flavor. “The most important thing about the toothpaste is that it has 1,000 ppm (parts per million) of fluoride to fight cavities,” states the specialist.
3. On time detection
The main goal of an oral hygiene routine is to avoid dental cavities. Durán explains that this is one of the most common consequences of poor oral care in babies. “If it is not treated in time, it can cause malocclusions, which is the misalignment of the teeth, as well as other more serious issues.” If the baby is healthy, it is important to have a check-up every six months. If not, a treatment plan will be established according to the child’s health.
It is important to avoid pacifiers and bottles. Their constant use pushes babies to reject their mother’s milk.