February 2021 Social Commentary
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What oral health education do you make sure to give new mothers and their babies?
Information regarding early childhood caries, oral hygiene, dietary habits, fluoride, and first dental hygiene visit.
Always advise to swipe over baby’s gums with a washcloth after feeding. Helps secure the action of home care from the beginning.
I make sure to never tell them that breastfeeding causes caries. I despise how often I hear that opinion at pediatric offices. I recommend that mothers try to prevent milk from pooling in their baby’s mouth. I suggest wiping teeth with a washcloth and advise against consuming any amount of juice, even watered down.
Not “cleaning” a pacifier by putting it in your mouth and then giving it back to the baby. Yuck!
I always recommend wiping the gums of the baby with a warm washcloth after each feeding to disrupt bacteria as well as help get the child in a routine of having his or her mouth cleaned. I advise beginning to brush with a toothbrush twice daily using a grain of rice-size amount of fluoride toothpaste as soon as the first tooth erupts. I also like to discuss how important it is to try to avoid sharing saliva with the baby as this is a primary way harmful decay-causing bacteria are introduced to the infant. Additionally, I always stress the significance of refraining from giving infants sugary beverages such as juice and soda.
My recommendation for new mothers is to set aside time for adequate rest, recuperation, and regeneration. Through mindfulness, I review with them things that provide peace and calm, both before baby and after. Adequate rest, nutrition, and revitalization allow rejuvenation of all body systems.
I ask the new mother if she is nursing or bottle-feeding exclusively or a combination, and provide helpful information for both. Also discussed is the importance of not putting the baby to bed with a bottle of milk or sweetened beverage, only water, and talk about baby-bottle syndrome. Cleaning the newborn’s oral cavity on a daily basis with a clean, moistened washcloth that leads to a baby finger toothbrush and eventually toddler toothbrush is key to instilling a daily oral hygiene routine.
Start early. Begin by taking good care of your own teeth and gums with good oral hygiene and healthy dietary choices. Begin cleaning the infant’s mouth as soon as the first tooth erupts. Use a wet gauze or washcloth. Discontinue on-demand nursing and nighttime feedings once the first tooth erupts.
Before the first tooth comes in, wipe the baby’s gums with a clean, damp washcloth or infant toothbrush after meals. Keeping gums clean will keep bacteria to a minimum and provide a healthy space when that first lower front baby tooth comes in at 6 months.
Today is the start of the child’s path to dental health. Dental caries is a contagious disease where mothers, fathers, and caregivers can pass their oral bacteria on to the baby. With this in mind, all caregivers need to practice good oral hygiene and have all active oral diseases treated to help prevent early oral health problems for the baby.
Listen to your pediatrician and look at the evidence when deciding on best practices for you and your baby. When I was a mom more than 30 years ago, we put our babies to sleep on their stomachs and let them wear winter coats in their car seats. Grandma doesn’t always know best! In regards to oral health, I like to tell new moms all the reasons they should protect the baby teeth from decay and losing them prematurely such as eating, talking, smiling, and, most important, saving space for the adult teeth.
Moms should care for baby’s oral health before teeth erupt. Plaque should be removed by a wet washcloth or an infant-sized toothbrush after each feeding. Begin to consider a healthy diet as baby grows. Be mindful of sugary food/beverages once approved by the pediatrician. Consider setting up a dental exam shortly after the first birthday.
Social Commentary: Like Dimensions of Dental Hygiene’s Facebook page at: facebook.com/dimensionsofdentalhygiene to share your thoughts on posted questions. We may publish your comment in an upcoming edition of our new column “Social Commentary,” and one lucky respondent will receive a coupon for a free continuing education course. If you would like your Instagram handle included, please be sure to add it to your response.
From Dimensions of Dental Hygiene. February 2021;19(2):14-15.