The number of American children with cavities has begun to decrease. It's estimated that around 43% of children in the United States have cavities, and while this is a smaller percentage than in previous years, it's still a substantial number of kids. This percentage isn't equal across all children either, and it has been found that some ethnic groups and children from lower-income are disproportionately affected by tooth decay. New parents will want to do everything they can to prevent their baby from becoming part of that 43%, and caring for a child's teeth should begin before the very first tooth has even grown.

No Toothbrush Required

Dental care for babies doesn't even involve a toothbrush. Your baby's gums should simply be wiped clean to remove accumulated oral bacteria. Wash your hands thoroughly first, and then wipe your baby's gums each morning and night, using a clean washcloth. You could even use disposable paper towels to save on laundry. It's easier said than done since your baby isn't going to obediently open their mouth to allow you to access their gums. Keep your baby on your lap, and be prepared that it will take a little longer than you were expecting. The process will become quicker and easier as your baby learns what's expected of them, and this is good preparation for when teething starts, and you need to massage your baby's gums.

The First Dental Appointment

As soon as your baby begins to demonstrate the signs of teething, you should book their first dental appointment. This might seem premature, but you need to be sure that you can get an appointment on your required date. You could take your child to your own dentist, but deciduous (baby) teeth have different needs than permanent (adult) teeth. You might wish to seek out pediatric dental professionals whose appointments come with parental education.

Knowledge Is Power

Although you will know roughly what's involved in caring for your baby's emerging deciduous teeth, knowledge is power, and preventing tooth decay in children is certainly a useful power. A good pediatric dentist will need to have a frank discussion with you and might quiz you on your child's diet, whether they use a bottle or sippy cup (and what's in it), along with any thumb-sucking habits. Your pediatric dentist is trying to gain an all-around impression of your child's dietary and lifestyle habits, to advise you of any dietary or behavioral changes that can help your child to avoid periodontal issues. They will also be able to demonstrate how to progress from wiping your child's gums to cleaning their teeth.

Dental health can play a crucial role in your child's overall health, so you need to start caring for their teeth before those teeth even arrive, along with finding a pediatric dental professional.