Most people believe that oral hygiene is usually linked with cleaning teeth. But a good oral cleansing means taking good care of other parts of the mouth too. This includes the tongue and gums. Your newborn’s tongue in particular is a good place to clean.
Oral hygiene is of great importance for babies as the tongue is the main organ for suckling. Your baby’s tongue should be cleaned on a regular basis to reduce the risk of fungus, bacteria, or other germs.
Newborn babies are also at higher risk of oral thrush because their immune system is not completely developed.
What Is Oral Thrush?
Oral thrush, also known as oral candidiasis, is a fungi infection of the genus Candida that develops on the mucous membranes of the mouth. This is more common in people with low immune systems.
Apart from babies, it is also common in adults and usually in people undergoing chemotherapy or radiotherapy.
It is mostly harmless and easily treatable. According to National Health Services, around one in every 20 newborn babies is affected by oral thrush, rising to around one in every seven babies in the fourth week of life.
After this, the chances of your baby developing thrush will gradually decrease. This is the same fungus that causes diaper rash. In babies, mothers can pass this candida by taking antibiotics while breastfeeding or having thrush and breastfeeding.
How To Clean Newborn’s Tongue?
There are some simple ways to clean a newborn’s tongue:
Sterilized Ear Bud
Before doing this, you should wash your hands properly and sterilize your baby earbuds. Dip the bud in lukewarm drinking water and gently roll it on your newborn’s tongue. Do not forget to wipe the upper and lower gums and avoid going too deep in the mouth.
Wipe With Cloth/Gauze
Wash your hands properly with soap and then sterilize the gauze, cotton, or washcloth with lukewarm drinking water. Wrap this cloth around your finger and gently put your finger inside the baby’s mouth.
Also, wipe gums’ upper and lower ones. Try to involve the baby when the baby is in a happy mood. Try to do this in circular activity for better results.
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Clean With Soft Bristled Toothbrush
You can also choose gum cleaner when the babies have teeth around the age of 6-14 months. Try to use a soft-bristled toothbrush for cleaning the mouth.
Moistened the brush before using it. Use it on both teeth and tongue in a circular motion. Try to avoid using the brush on the newborn tongue. Change your baby’s toothbrush after every 3-4 months.
Ideally, a newborn’s tongue should be cleaned after every feed.
When Can I Start Cleaning My Newborn Tongue?
Although babies’ teeth grow in four to six months, instead of waiting until then, you can start cleaning the tongue of your newborn to avoid germs from developing. It is because like adults, babies also have bacteria in their mouth but their saliva production is less than adults and thus cannot flush out bacteria as frequently as adults.
Why You Should Keep Your Baby’s Tongue Clean?
It’s important to clean the baby’s tongue because the bread milk or baby milk formula can leave residue on the tongue which if left uncleaned can cause bacterial or fungal growth and ultimately thrush. That’s why oral hygiene is a must even before teeth development.
How Often To Clean a Newborn Baby’s Tongue?
Cleaning before and after every feed is good but can be difficult for many mothers. Therefore, twice a day is an adequate time to clean the tongue of your newborn. A soft small sized toothbrush, finger brush, or washcloth can be used to gently scrub the tongue of the newborn baby.
Talk To A Doctor! Precautions To Be Taken
It is very important that you take a few precautions when engaging in this activity and always talk to a doctor before trying anything you read online:
- If you are using toothpaste, clean a newborn’s tongue properly so as to remove the remains
- Do not use fluoride toothpaste
- Try to cradle your baby while doing this
- Be gentle when cleaning the tongue and do not go deep
If the white layer persists, this might be a severe oral thrush. If the above method does not help you and you can still see the patches, you need to consult your pediatrician immediately.
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White milk residue is often mistaken for thrush. However, thrust can be identified as a thick white coating more like cottage cheese that you cannot wipe easily. It is a fungal infection caused by candidiasis and is accompanied by white spots on the tongue, inside of cheeks, gums, and mouth roof.
It is important to differentiate between white tongue or discoloration due to milk and white tongue due to thrush. For that, it is recommended to clean the tongue with a washcloth twice a day. However, the white coat due to milk is normal and it vanishes once the baby starts eating solids. But if it is a thick coat which doesn’t wipe off, it might be a yeast infection called thrush.