Many parents wonder how early they should start cleaning their baby’s mouth. Some argue that there is no need to wash a baby’s mouth until he or she starts growing teeth. However, It is important to take care of your child’s oral health from birth to prevent bad breath and bacterial accumulations thereby lowering the risk of oral infections and gum diseases.
Cleaning and massaging a baby’s gums in the initial stages can help in the process of teething and ensure proper dental hygiene. You should clean your baby's mouth at least once a day with a clean gauze pad or soft cloth and clean warm water. Avoid the use of toothpaste, home remedy, and herbal products that are not approved by the dentist to wash your baby's mouth.
Since your newborn baby has not established a regular feeding pattern, it is difficult for you as a mother to decide which meal will be the last meal of the day. All you need to do is to set a fixed time to wipe his or her mouth every night.
When your baby grows older (over 6 months old) and has established regular feeding habits, you can wipe your baby's mouth after the last meal of the day. It is important to wash your baby's mouth because they have less saliva which makes it harder for their little mouths to wash away milk residue. This can build upon their tongue, causing a white coating. Cleaning their tongue loosens and removes the residue. Cleaning away excess milk or food particles can help prevent a build-up of bacteria that could potentially cause gum disease and bad breath. Cleaning a baby’s tongue at a young age makes them maintain a good oral habit as they grow older.
However, don't mistake your baby's white tongue for another condition called thrush. Some newborns may pick up candida, the same fungus found in a yeast infection, during the process of birth. This shows up in the mouth as white patches on the lips, tongue, or inner cheeks called thrush. If your baby has thrush, they will need to be treated by a doctor.
A Step-By-Step Guide; How To Clean Your Baby’s Tongue
- Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.
- Dip a clean washcloth or gauze in warm water and wrap it around your index finger.
- Carefully open your baby’s mouth and insert your finger inside.
- You can open the baby’s lower lip to enable him/her to open the mouth.
- Move your finger circularly over the tongue while being careful not to slide your finger towards the baby’s throat.
- If there are any teeth present, then carefully clean the teeth with the gauze.
- Softly rub your finger over your baby’s gums and on the inside of their cheeks too.
- While cleaning the tongue and the mouth, make sure to check for the presence of any stubborn thick white coating that won’t leave the surface in spite of wiping. It might be an oral thrush and might need medical attention
Precautions To Take While Cleaning Your Baby’s Tongue
The following precautions while cleaning your baby’s tongue can help avoid any injury to the baby.
- Ensure you use a clean washcloth for your baby’s mouth to avoid the risk of any infection.
- Keep your nails short and clean to avoid any injury to the baby’s delicate tissues.
- Do not forcefully clean the baby’s tongue.
- Using water is the best way to clean the baby’s tongue. Use a piece of soft gauze or cotton cloth to dip into warm water and clean the tongue. However, make sure that the water is not too hot for your baby as it may hurt your baby.
Engage your little one in any interesting activity such as singing, clapping, and tickling while cleaning his tongue.
Tips To Ensure Proper Oral Hygiene For Your
It is recommended to regularly visit the dentist as soon as your baby’s first tooth becomes visible (which generally happens between 3 and 9 months of age).
Get an overall dental examination of your baby and a fluoride status review as per the doctor’s advice.
If you have any concerns related to your child’s dental health, speak to your dentist about it.
Follow the dentist’s instructions on how to keep your baby’s mouth clean.
Once your baby is at least 6 months old and has a tooth, you can use a soft kid-friendly toothbrush and toothpaste to wash his or her mouth. When giving toothpaste to a baby that’s at least 6 months old, you only need a small amount, about the amount of a rice grain. Once your child is at least 3 years old, you can increase the amount to pea-size.
Cleaning a baby’s tongue is often overseen and neglected, but it is essential as part of the baby care regimen. Keeping the tongue and mouth clean helps in maintaining the overall hygiene of your baby.