CafeMom welcomed Dr. Ruby Gelman to the group to answer your questions about the best way to care for baby's teeth and gums. See her answers below!
Dr. Gelman is a pediatric dentist in private practice in New York City. She was chosen by Nickelodeon Parents Picks as the best pediatric dentist in New York City for 2009.
Barabell asked: What are some of the best methods to sooth the gums where teeth are coming in?
Dr. Gelman answered: If you think back to when your wisdom teeth were coming in, you may remember that it can feel like a tickling or burning sensation that lingers, accompanied by a dull aching feeling.
Teething is hard enough for an adult - imagine how it feels when you can't use words to say what's bothering you! Babies seem to like cold icy things as well as things that allow them to use their teeth, like a teething ring or toy to sooth the gums and erupting teeth .
batjmom asked: What is the best for a teething baby? Frozen teething toys, wash cloth or something else?
Dr. Gelman answered: With my kids, I used the mesh feeders that are designed to introduce solid fruits to babies, and placed a frozen piece of fruit inside - an all natural Popsicle! Messy, but effective! Babies really like to use their teeth when they are teething, so items that allow that are very good. There are all natu al remedies that contain chamomilla that can really soothe a teething baby. Pain relievers are a great way to give babies relief to allow sleeping, but of course, use as sparingly as possible.
AshleyOh7 asked: Thank you for answering our questions! I have two questions: 1. Once a baby cuts his first tooth, how long does it typically take for the rest to come in? Also, 2. I've read to "brush" with gauze, but would a washcloth work? Or any cloth?
Dr. Gelman answered: 1. That's a tough question to answer because every baby is different! It generally takes at least 4 months for a tooth to erupt completely, sometimes it can take a lot longer. Be patient!
2. Yes, a wet gauze or cloth are both great option for cleani ng a baby's teeth and gums. I recommend starting even before the first tooth comes in! This is a great way to start the "brushing" habit early. Start using a baby toothbrush as soon as the first tooth comes in. It also can do double duty as a teether!
rfhsure asked: My son hasn't started teething yet. What can I do now to make sure his mouth is healthy? And how do I care for his teeth when he starts teething?
Dr. Gelman answered: Wiping a baby's mouth after feeding is a great way to start an oral care routine. Use a wet washcloth or gauze to clean the baby's mouth . As soon as the teeth start to erupt, start using a baby sized toothbrush with water or non-fluoride toothpaste to clean the teeth and surrounding gums.
Lillysmommy0113 asked: What is the best way to clean a baby's gums? She doesn't have teeth yet. What kind of toothbrush is best when she gets teeth?
Dr. Gelman answered: I recommend taking a moistened cloth or gauze and moving around the gums in a circular motion . Once she starts to get teeth, a small soft or extra soft toothbrush designed for babies is best. There are lots of different designs available that work well, some with space for a caregiver's hand as well as a baby's. Please only use soft or extra soft bristled brushes!
Vertical15 asked: Are those rubber finger covers good to use to clean gums or is a washcloth just as good?
Dr. Gelman answered: I think it's good to mix up the different kinds of tooth care products you use to see which ones you baby likes best. If your baby likes the rubber finger brushes then definitely use them!
lalasmama2007 asked: At what age should baby have their first dental appointment?
Dr. Ruby Gelman answered: The Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that babies go to the dentist by the age of 1. The reason is to not only check what is beginning to happen inside your child's mouth, but also to talk to the parents and caregivers, to assess what your child's risk is for developing cavities, and to educate on how best to care for your growing child's teeth .
bamababe1975 asked: What's the best way to brush a baby's teeth?
Dr. Gelman answered: I recommend using a small baby sized toothbrush and brush in a small circular motion around the teeth and gums.
littlecheifsmom asked: What is the difference in children's tooth paste? What ones is better?
Dr. Gelman answered: Great question! I don't think there is any "best" toothpaste for kids . There are two kinds of kid's paste - with and without fluoride. I recommend using fluoride free until children are able to spit well . Once kids have learned how to spit out, switching to a fluoride toothpaste is recommended. A kids' toothpaste has half the amount of fluoride of an adult version.
Lillysmommy0113 asked: Is fluoride needed for good teeth?
Dr. Gelman answered: Studies show that fluoride is very beneficial for developing teeth . I recommend fluoridated water to patients, and a fluoride toothpaste for kids who have learned how to spit out well .
SweetLuci asked: How can I prepare her for her first visit to the dentist office?
Dr. Gelman answered: I believe that it's important not give kids any negative associations with coming to the dentist for the first time. I always tell parents to tell kids that the dentist is a special person who will count and check their teeth . And that it will be fun! It's a great idea to show your child the dentist's website - often there will be pictures of the office and the people who work there, so that your child can get familiar with the office.
Paigesmommy78 asked: What are some fun ways to get a toddler to enjoy brushing?
Dr. Gelman answered: A couple of good ideas are to try brushing together - in my house, we sing a song together while brushing teeth . We also sometimes do brushing during bath time. There are all kinds of fun toothbrushes and flavors of pastes to help kids get excited for brushing .
MomToovey asked: Thank you Dr. Gelman for taking the time to answer our questions and welcome to this group! My question, I hope it hasn't been asked already, is what kinds of foods should our little ones avoid to help have healthy gums and teeth? And on the other side, are there any foods they should be eating to help keep strong, healthy teeth and gums?
Dr. Gelman answered: Love this question! Some great tooth health snack options are fruits, vegetables, cheese and yogurt. As far as treats go, I recommend avoiding sticky, chewy treats that can get stuck in the teeth and can be difficult to brush away. Chocolate is a better treat as it washes away far easier than something sticky. And have your kids get in the habit of drinking lots of water - so beneficial for overall health!
Chandra_kay asked: Do I start brushing as soon as the first tooth peeks through, or wait till more start to show?
Dr. Gelman answered: Start cleaning the mouth even before the first tooth arrives. Use a damp cloth or gauze at least once a day and clean the area arou d the gums where the teeth will eventually come in . As soon as the first tooth erupts, start brushing! There are g eat kids' brushes available in drugstores and baby stores - check out the selection!
nolazimmer asked: What is the best way to teach a 13 month old to brush her teeth. She always wants to bite the toothbrush!
Dr. Gelman answered: This is always a difficult question to answer. Honestly, kids may be really resistant to brushing teeth in the beginning. It can feel really strange and invasive to kids. The best advice I have is to keep at it daily even if your child resists . It's important at this age to show kids that we all have to brush our teeth for healthy mouths and gums. At first, it will likely be very quick brushing, but eventually, your child will want to get involved and will want to to do it on his/her own . At that point make sure to start your child off or finish up the brushing for them . This way they can assert their independence but you can be sure that their teeth are being properly brushed.
Many thanks to all our moms for their awesome questions, and special thanks to Dr. Ruby Gelman for her wonderful answers!