From time to time, I get the privilege of speaking with expecting parents about oral health for their soon to arrive babies. Two questions often come up. One, does baby’s mouth need to be cleaned after feeding? Two, what can you use to clean baby’s mouth?
While there is consensus for cleaning baby’s mouth even when there are no teeth (I shared on this in my Nov 8 Tooth Bunny blog post, "Does Baby's Mouth Need To Be Cleaned?"). Looking into the literature, there appears to be no evidence-based recommendations on the best way/s to clean baby’s mouth or which appliance to use.
So, in this post, I’m going to share my thoughts as a "mummy dentist" (a mummy who also happens to be a dentist), on the topic of what to use for cleaning baby’s mouth.
WHAT OPTIONS ARE THERE FOR MOUTH CLEANING ?
The newborn is delicate, so something gentle for mouth cleaning without causing trauma, is important. I found extra soft cotton cloths e.g. terry cloths, to be kindest to baby’s mouth. Any good quality soft cotton cloth would be just fine but if you’re after something a little fancy and specifically designed for baby, there is MAM’s Oral Care Rabbit, a glove-like cotton cloth for oral cleaning .
For convenience, there are also commercially available baby teeth wipes. There are many choices these days, including Spiffies Baby Tooth Wipes, My Dentist’s Choice Tooth Tissue, Jack and Jill Natural Baby Gum and Tooth Wipes, and Brush Baby Dental Wipes. They vary in constituents and ease of use. My preference is for the slightly textured ones, a good size for the index finger, with the fewest constituents and the most pleasant taste. More expensive wipes may not always be the best – so I always check the labels before I buy.
If you’ve been looking around, you’ve probably noticed that some baby teeth wipes are marketed as protective against dental decay based on its xylitol content – this is something I’d like to explore separately in another blog post soon. Suffice to say, for newborn and young infants, the act of physically cleaning the mouth and integrating that as a daily habit, is more important than presence or absence of xylitol.
As baby grows and teething starts (average age 6-7mths), I've found the soft silicon fingerbrush, teething chew brush and silicon training toothbrush to be quite useful. They all serve multi-purposes, including massaging baby gum, function as a teething chew in addition to mouth and tongue cleaning. Again, there is a variety of these to choose from in baby shops and online stores e.g. Dreambaby, Baby Buddy, Playette, Jack and Jill, Nuby, MAM, Baby Banana, Dr Brown, Edison now.
For silicon fingerbrush, I prefer one that is soft, for baby’s comfort and which covers the full length of the index finger, so that the fingerbrush doesn’t fall off easily during use. For silicon training toothbrush, again, I'd go for something soft and flexible. Softness and flexibility are especially important for baby's comfort when there are only a few teeth and lots of gums in the mouth. Both fingerbrushes and full length silicon toothbrushes can continue to be used until all baby teeth have erupted (usually around 2-3yo). Once eruption of all baby teeth have occurred, transition to a regular baby toothbrush is a good idea.
ON A PERSONAL NOTE, WHAT DID I USE FOR MY BABY ?
When my daughter was a baby, I used the soft cloth to gently clean her baby mouth, gums and tongue using dabbing motions (instead of wiping) after feeds and during bath times. As my daughter grew, in size and age, I changed from dabbing motions to gentle wiping actions for mouth, gums and tongue cleaning. I changed over to using both a cloth and a very soft silicon fingerbrush when she was teething and when she only had her bottom front baby teeth (lower incisors). Once more baby teeth erupted, I progressed her to a toothbrush for her teeth and continued to wipe her tongue with a soft cotton cloth.
I would love to know what you like using for cleaning your babies' mouths too? Please do drop me a message via the contact page on this website, email: firstname.lastname@example.org or Tooth Bunny Page on Facebook
Until next time...
Hugs & Smiles,