Oral hygiene is essential for babies even before their teeth erupt. However, it is often neglected as oral care is considered synonymous with teeth care. The New York State Department of Healthstates that it is important to care for your child’s teeth and dental (oral) health from birth itself(1). In this MomJunction post, we will be discussing the importance, tips, techniques, and precautions to take while cleaning a baby’s tongue.
Why Do You Need To Clean Your Baby’s Tongue?
A healthy mouth is important for a healthy body. Oral hygiene maintenance routine should start in infancy. A clean environment in the mouth could eventually help keep the erupting teeth healthy.Here are a few more reasons to clean your baby’s tongue.
- Babies are breastfed from their very first day of life. Breast milk has sugars, just like the formula (2). Therefore, it is essential to clean the baby’s tongue and gums after feeding them.
- Oral thrush is a fungal infection seen in babies and is visualized by white patches on the tongue, cheek, palate, and gums. Regular cleaning of the tongue and other soft tissues helps in maintaining a clean oral environment and could help avoid fungal infections (3).
- Cleaning a baby’s tongue at a young age makes them habitual to the feeling of oral hygiene maintenance tools like toothbrush, tongue cleaner, etc.
- It could also teach the baby the importance of healthy oral hygiene.
How To Clean A Baby’s Tongue: A Step-By-Step Guide
Be gentle and patient while cleaning your baby’s tongue. Your baby might initially suck or bite your fingers, thinking it to be food.It takes a few days for the baby to get used to it.
Step-by-step guide 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 retract the baby’s lower lip to enable him/her to open the mouth.
- Move your finger circularly over the tongue while taking care not to slide the finger towards the baby’s throat.
- If there are any teeth present, then clean the teeth with the gauze.
- Clean the baby’s gums and the insides of the cheek 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 oral thrush and might need medical attention.
It is suggested to clean the baby’s tongue and mouth at least once a day.A gauze piece is most commonly used to clean a baby’s tongue. You may ask your dentist if they suggest using any finger toothbrushes or specific tongue cleaners for babies.
Do You Need A Tongue Cleaner For Your Baby?
Tongue cleaners might not be needed for babies. You may ask your pediatrician about using a finger toothbrush, which may serve as a tongue cleaner too after a few teeth erupt in the baby’s mouth.
Tips For Cleaning The Baby’s Gums
Babies often do not cooperate while cleaning their gums, but these tips might make the process a bit easier.
- Engage and distract your baby while cleaning the gums.
- Cradle them in your arms so that you have a better grip on the baby, and it is easier for you to clean them.
- Wait until your baby is in a good mood before starting to clean his/her tongue and gums.
- For very young babies, it is difficult to determine the last meal of the day. So it might be a good idea to fix a time in the day. It helps build a sense of routine for the baby.
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.
- Use lukewarm water to soak the gauze to avoid burning or scalding the baby’s tender skin.
- Try using a sterilized gauze piece for your baby’s mouth to avoid the risk of any infection.
- Keep your nails clean to avoid any injury to the baby’s delicate tissues.
- Do not forcefully clean the baby’s tongue by exerting pressure. Instead, be as gentle as possible.
- Do not use toothpaste to clean your baby’s tongue, without the pediatrician’s consent.
Cleaning a baby’s tongue is often overseen and neglected. But it is essential to be a part of the baby care regime. Keeping the tongue and mouth clean helps in maintaining the overall hygiene for the baby.
Do you have any tips for tongue cleaning in your babies? Let us know in the comment section.
2. Breastfeeding: 6 Things Nursing Moms Should Know About Dental Health; American Dental Association
3. Thrush—Child; Winchester Hospital