I am not a dentist or a dental hygenist but I understand the importance of oral hygiene and the great opportunity it can provide for developing oral-sensory-motor skills!
It is necessary to wipe a baby’s gums before he even has teeth. The Canadian Dental Association recommends a soft finger brush or a soft cloth on your finger to wipe the gums.
Once babies are a little older, they can grasp and mouth toys. There are all kinds of tools marketed for oral hygiene but are also great tools for developing the skills to learn to eat. Experience with these tools can provide the opportunity for the mouth to become comfortable with different textures, for the tongue to learn to move separately from the jaw, and for the gag reflex to move towards the back of the mouth. Particularly, the stick shape is different from the majority of rounded toys that babies play with. Rounded toys don’t move past the front gums and tip of the tongue. More frequent gagging is definitely a risk with stick shaped tools, especially when the baby doesn’t quite yet understand that pulling out the toy will stop the gagging. Some of the tools listed below come with a “gag guard” to prevent exactly this.
Great tools for your baby to independently mouth include:
Let me know if there is any other tool you’ve fallen in love with.