Did you know that you don't have to wait for your infant's teeth to erupt before you can start caring for his or her oral/dental health? If you wait, then it might be too late by the time the teeth erupt. Here are some of the measures to take:
Be Careful With the Drugs You Use
If you are nursing, then you should be careful with the type of chemicals you ingest. You may pass these chemicals to the child via your milk, and they may affect the development of his or her teeth.
A good example is tetracycline. If you take the drug while pregnant (especially in the last half of your pregnancy) or while nursing, then you risk passing it to your infant. The drug is a factor in future permanent discoloration of the baby's teeth. Apart from that, it may also lead to the formation of enamel hypoplasia—a condition in which the enamel is thinner than it should be.
The effect is small, but the more tetracycline you take, the higher the chances that it will affect your infant's teeth. Therefore, you should only take it under your doctor's direction, and inform him or her that you are nursing a baby.
Adequate Fluoride Early On
You probably know that fluoride is necessary for the development of healthy teeth. What you may not know is that your baby may benefit from adequate fluoride in his or her diet even before his or her teeth begin to erupt. The mineral is involved in the formation of the teeth; it actually helps to form strong teeth enamel.
The good news is that most children get adequate fluoride from their water and milk (formula or mother's milk). However, if your local water is low in fluoride, or if you use bottled water for drinking, then the child may not be getting enough fluoride. You should ask your dentist about alternative sources of the mineral for your baby. The dentist may prescribe fluoride drops or supplements for the child.
Clean the Baby's Gums Regularly
Although a toothless infant doesn't require brushing or flossing, you still need to maintain his or her oral hygiene. The best way to do this is to clean his or her gums regularly. This is because cavity-causing bacteria usually present in infants' saliva and soft tissues, especially the fissures in the gums. If you don't clean out the bacteria, then they will attack the teeth as soon as they erupt.
Get a soft piece of washcloth, moisten it with clean water and use it to wipe the baby's gums. Do this at least once a day, but ideally after every feeding session too.
What other oral/dental precautions do you think you should take? Talk to a family dentist at a clinic like Eden Prairie Dental Care for any further measures to take.