Keeping your Little Ones Safe from Tooth Decay

Believe it or not, your baby’s teeth are as susceptible to cavities. Tooth decay in infants and toddlers is referred to as Baby Bottle Tooth Decay, or Early Childhood carries. The “correctness” of their adult teeth heavily depends on the care given to their first teeth, so take a bite of these facts about how to start infants off with good oral care:

  • Baby Bottle Tooth Decay most often occurs in the upper front teeth, but other teeth may also be affected.
  • One common cause is the frequent, prolonged exposure of the baby’s teeth to drinks that contain sugar.
  • Tooth decay can occur when the baby is put to bed with a bottle, or when a bottle is used as a pacifier for a fussy baby.

Here’s what can be done to prevent it:

  • Try not to share saliva with the baby through common use of feeding spoons or licking pacifiers. After each feeding, wipe your child’s gums with a clean, damp gauze pad or washcloth.
  • When your child’s teeth come in, brush them gently with a child-size toothbrush and a smear (or grain of rice sized amount) of fluoride toothpaste until the age of 3.
  • Brush the teeth with a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste from the ages of 3 to 6.
  • Supervise brushing until your child can be counted on to spit and not swallow toothpaste—usually not before he or she is 6 or 7.
  • Place only formula, milk or breast milk in bottles. Avoid filling the bottle with liquids such as sugar water, juice or soft drinks.
  • Infants should finish their bedtime and naptime bottles before going to bed.
  • If your child uses a pacifier, provide one that is clean—don’t dip it in sugar or honey.
  • Encourage your child to drink from a cup by his/her first birthday.

You and your kiddo should head to their dentist once their first tooth appears. Remember: starting early is the key to a lifetime of good dental health.