As a parent, you are always concerned about your infant’s health. You do everything to make sure that your kid remains healthy. For this, you need to focus on your newborn’s mouth as an oral cavity act as an entry gate to systemic health.
It is essential to keep your newborn’s mouth clean and germ-free. An infant does not have teeth, but still, you can clean the gums with your finger.
Later on, after the appearance of the tooth, brushing becomes one of the important measures to maintain the hygiene.
Likewise, you have to be watchful of habits like thumb sucking or any abnormal growth in the mouth of your baby such as Bohn’s nodules, Epstein pearls, etc. Usually, these things can be managed with patience as they resolve over time. (1)
This article will throw light on newborn’s mouth care and ways to ensure good oral health.
What all abnormalities are noticed in newborns?
Doctor thoroughly examine infant’s oral health as soon as they are born. But, many times the infant’s oral cavity shows abnormal growths and here are some common abnormalities noticed in infants.
Epstein pearls are the most common developmental anomaly seen in infants. They presented as small, white bumps appearing on the hard palate.
There is nothing to worry about Epstein pearls as they do not cause any harm to the infant’s health and resolves spontaneously. (2)
Bohn’s nodules are small, greyish-white nodules seen on the alveolar ridge. They are harmless and resolve on its own. But, in case they get enlarged and interfere with feeding habits, excision is performed by a doctor.
Inclusion cyst appears as a small and painless bump. It is harmless and can be seen on the alveolar ridge.
Usually, the abnormal masses in infants are benign and all it requires it watchful waiting. If they do not resolve, then excision is needed. Visit the doctor if you notice the persistence of abnormalities.
Sucking is a natural reflex, and infant usually starts to practice it in the womb. Often, babies are fond of sucking their thumb, pacifiers, etc.
Visit a pedodontist if your child sucks thumb even after 4 years of age. You can use sugar-free pacifiers for your child. (3)
Teething causes a lot of discomfort to the infant along with the gingival irritation and increased salivation (4). Babies are born with 20 teeth hidden in their gums.
later these teeth emerge to show up around the age of 6 to 10 months. In some cases, the babies are born with natal teeth or neonatal teeth.
Natal teeth are the teeth that are present at the time of birth and often come in a pair. Usually, lower incisors found as the natal teeth.
Natal teeth need to extract if they are loose or shows poor crown development which can cause harm to the tongue. (5)
Neonatal teeth are teeth that emerge in the mouth within 30 days of life. These are the primary tooth which often undergoes extraction if it interferes with the feeding habits.
Ultimately, visiting a pediatric dentist in case of natal or neonatal teeth is advisable as the dentist will thoroughly examine your newborn’s oral cavity and will tell you about how you can take care of your kid’s teeth.
How to care for your newborn’s mouth?
Parents fail to maintain the oral health of their infant as they have the misconception that infants do not need to clean their mouth as they are toothless.
Parents also think that milk teeth are not that important as they are going to fall eventually. But keep in mind, milk teeth will help your child to chew and also preserve the space for the permanent tooth.
The decay of milk teeth can even lead to gum inflammation in children. Hence, taking care of the infant’s mouth is significant to establish good oral health.
The oral cavity is not only about the teeth, care of baby’s gum, and tongue is equally essential for the maintenance of oral health. Bacteria starts to harbor in the oral cavity even before the tooth erupts. To reduce the colonies of bacteria, we need to disrupt them continuously.
Hence, you should clean your baby’s mouth daily after each feeding. Proper oral care helps to keep your baby’s mouth clean and to get your baby accustomed to having a clean mouth.
Steps for cleaning baby’s mouth under 1 month of age
- Wash your hand thoroughly with soap. An unclean hand can easily cause infection as the infants have low immunity.
- Prepare a piece of gauze or cloth and a glass of lukewarm water.
- Wrap the piece of gauze or soft cloth around your finger and soak it in water.
- Gently put your finger in your kid’s mouth and wipe the upper and lower gum pads. Make sure you clean the gum pad till the back.
Method to clean baby’s tooth after the appearance of the first tooth to 1 year of age
The presence of the tooth is considered as the best time to introduce brushing habit in your baby. You can start cleaning your kid’s teeth with infant’s soft bristle finger brush and drinking water.
Make your child sit on the lap so that you can see his teeth. Start brushing gently, make sure you clean all the surfaces of the tooth.
Brushing of teeth lowers the chances of fungal infection. Beside the brushing few points that need to be taken care in kids are –
- With the teeth, you should clean the tongue thoroughly.
- Message gum pads to stimulate the eruption of tooth.
Risk of cavitation starts with the eruption of teeth. However, child feeding on breast milk has lower chances of cavity development. As soon as the child begins to have other drinks than breast milk, prefer plain water over sugary drinks.
Do not put your baby to sleep with the bottle of milk, juice or sweetened liquid, as it feeds bacteria in the mouth. Also, during sleep, a child produces less saliva to clean his mouth and all this increase chances of cavitation.
Once the child starts to have water, fluoride in water fights against the cavitation. But the intake of fluoride is not recommended in a child under 6 months of age.
The first sign of cavitation is a slight change in tooth color and pitting on the tooth surface. Visit your dentist for the treatment if your child shows up this symptom.
The responsibility of a newborn’s oral health lies in the parent’s hand. Do not have the misconception that infants are toothless and thus do not require oral cleaning. You should take proper measures to maintain a good oral health of your kid.
Make sure to clean gums of your baby and visit a dentist in case you see any abnormality.