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What do parents need to know about caring for their baby's mouth?
Updated: 5/31/2013 8:44:51 PM

What do parents need to know about caring for their baby

New parents may be feeling overwhelmed by everything they have to do to keep their baby healthy. They are responsible for every single aspect of their baby's well-being, and between feedings, diaper changes and doctor's checkups, it can be easy to let little things slip between the cracks - like their baby's dental health. Some parents may believe that because their baby does not have any teeth, they don't need to worry about his or her oral health. However, they would be wrong. 

From the moment a baby is born, parents need to be concerned about his or her developing teeth and  gums. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recently held a conference, and CNN spoke to experts present about the importance of caring for a baby's dental health. 

"We want [parents] to be aware that a newborn's teeth are already developing," Art Nowak, D.D.S., one expert attending the AAPD conference, told CNN. "Parents can't see them, but they are there under the gums."

The AAPD recommends that children visit the dentist when their first tooth appears or by their first birthday, whichever comes first. However, a 2010 survey found that 97 percent of parents were unaware that they needed to bring their children to the dentist that early. 

Tips to keep them healthy
The news source also spoke to Beverly Largent, D.D.S., a pediatric dentist, who recommended that parents establish a dental care routine with their baby. This means after every meal, they should wipe their child's mouth and gums with a damp, clean cloth. She explained that not only does this help keep bacteria at bay, but it also gets the baby used to having parents check inside his or her mouth - something that will come in handy when the baby develops teeth that need to be brushed. 

It's also important for parents to know the signs that their baby is teething so they can prepare for this process. Baby Center explains that if a child has swollen, bulging gums, is experiencing irritability and drooling or is constantly trying to find things to bite or suck on, chances are he or she is teething. A baby's teeth usually develop between four or 10 months, or a little later. However, if a child's first birthday rolls around and he or she has no signs of teeth, the child should be brought to a pediatric dentist who can make sure that everything is developing properly. 

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