I recently received a call from a dear friend of mine. Between the regular chit chat about book recommendations and the highly anticipated Gilmore Girls revival, she had a question that is frequently asked, especially by new parents. How do I care for my little one’s teeth? A great question! This prompted me to share some useful tips that are supported by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.
– Before the teeth erupt, clean your baby’s mouth and gums with a soft cloth or infant toothbrush at bath time. This helps prepare them for future tooth brushings and cleanings.
– When your child’s teeth erupt, clean them at least twice a day with a toothbrush designed for small children.
– Take your little one to see a pediatric dentist by his or her first birthday. It is important to establish a “dental home” to ensure that the child’s oral health care is delivered in a comprehensive way by the pediatric dentist.
– If your baby is placed to sleep with a bottle, use nothing but water. When a child is given a bottle containing sugary liquids such as milk, formula or fruit juice, the teeth are under attack by bacterial acid for extended periods. This can cause cavities in babies called “early childhood caries,” formerly known as baby bottle tooth decay.
– Breast-feeding has been shown to be beneficial for a baby’s health and development. However, if your child prefers to be breast-fed often or for long periods once a tooth appears and other foods/beverages have been introduced into the diet, he or she is at risk for severe tooth decay. Clean your baby’s mouth with a wet washcloth after breast-feeding, and encourage a bottle with plain water during the nighttime.
– Never dip a pacifier in anything sweet; it can lead to serious tooth decay.
– Wean your infant from the bottle by one year of age.