When you have a baby, you have a lot of things to do to keep the child healthy. When it comes to children’s dental problems, we have found that the great majority of parents simply did not know how to keep their baby’s teeth healthy. We hope to remedy that by providing you with some important information about caring for a baby’s teeth in this blog.
Most people do not know that they should brush their baby’s teeth as soon as the first tooth makes its appearance in the mouth. While babies do have a slightly lower risk for cavities than older children and adults, they can still develop decay. They do collect plaque on their teeth, so cleaning the plaque away is essential for maintaining healthy baby teeth.
The good news is that this is a very simple process. The plaque comes off easily with gentle brushing or even just wiping with a soft washcloth. The best strategy is to use a baby toothbrush or washcloth to rub all exposed surfaces of any teeth that are visible. Perform this task on a nightly basis at a minimum.
This is a wonderful way to establish the habit that involves the parent carrying out oral hygiene tasks for them into their toddler and adolescent years. A three year old who is accustomed to having mom or dad brush his teeth since infancy is much more likely to submit than one to whom it is a new thing.
Many babies have bottles or sippy cups within reach at all times. It is important to consider the sugar content of the beverage you place in bottles or sippy cups for your baby. Anything with a large amount of sugar, like fruit juice or soda, will easily cause tooth decay. It is not unusual for us to see two year olds with cavities on every tooth due to bottles or cups filled with fruit juices.
Even milk has some sugar in it, and it can lead to cavities over time. For constant sipping, the best drink is plain water. Reserve juices, sodas, and milk for mealtime to reduce their cavity potential.
In keeping with the previous recommendation, we strongly suggest water only in a bottle or sippy cup for bedtime. We know that many children use a bottle to help self-soothe and fall asleep. When that bottle is full of milk or juice, the risk for cavities is greatly increased.
If your child has already gotten used to milk or juice, and you’d like to transition them to water, this is the best strategy. Begin by mildly diluting the juice or milk with water. Each day or every other day, increase the water content so that eventually, the child is drinking plain water to go to sleep. This slow weaning off of juice or milk is much easier than trying to make a baby quit “cold turkey”.
Babies should see the dentist, too! The American Academy of Pediatric Dentists recommends that children should see a dentist by his or her first birthday or within six months of the first tooth’s entrance into the mouth.
Your dentist will perform an initial visual exam of your baby’s mouth and teeth by holding the baby in your laps together. These lap exams are relatively quick, and they allow the dentist to give you specific instructions on diet and oral hygiene.
It is important to understand your baby’s unique risks so that you can provide the best dental care at home and maintain healthy teeth as your child grows.
Fluoride is beneficial in the formation and maintenance of healthy teeth. Many babies receive fluoride through their mothers’ breast milk if the mother drinks fluoridated water. If a baby consumes infant formula that does not contain fluoride, and the mother uses powdered formula and bottled water, this baby could not be getting enough fluoride to form strong teeth.
First, it is important to know if your child is getting any fluoride through either your breast milk or formula. If you are unsure, talk to your dentist. We know the optimum amount your baby should get and can help you make adjustments through your own drinking water or the formula you purchase to ensure your baby receives the right amount.
Call Rockland Dental Specialists today and schedule a visit with one of our dental experts. We can answer any question you have about baby teeth and your child’s specific situation. We love helping you care for your entire family! Call us at (845) 259-2500 or complete our online contact form today!