Tooth decay in infants, also known as “baby bottle decay,” can have harmful effects on your child’s oral health. Healthy baby teeth are essential for learning to chew and speak, and can also ensure their adult teeth grow in correctly. Therefore, make sure you follow these seven easy steps to protect their teeth from decay.
1. Clean your baby’s teeth and gums after feeding.
You can begin cleaning your child’s teeth and gums from very early on. Simply use a clean moist washcloth to gently wipe away bacteria and food residue. Once their first tooth comes in, you can begin brushing their teeth without toothpaste. If you do choose to use toothpaste, make sure you’re not using more than the size of a grain of rice.
2. Do not share eating utensils.
You may be surprised to learn that bacteria that have been passed from a parent to the child can cause baby bottle decay. For example, if a parent puts their child’s feeding spoon into their mouth to taste the food and then gives it to the child, this can pass harmful bacteria that lead to decay. Therefore, try to keep your eating utensils separate and wipe clean your child’s teeth and gums after meals.
3. When your child is old enough, start a regular dental hygiene routine.
After your child’s teeth come in, you can begin using a child-sized toothbrush and a grain-sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste to clean their teeth. When they turn three, you can use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste to brush their teeth, as this is when they begin learning how to spit properly. Make sure you’re supervising their brushing until they can spit the toothpaste out on their own, usually by the age of 6. Also, don’t forget to start flossing once their teeth have grown in!
4. Avoid putting sugary beverages in their bottles.
It is important to avoid putting sugary drinks—such as soda or juice—into their bottle. Not only are these beverages lacking in nutritional value, but they also lead to cavities at a young age. Therefore, try to only keep formula, milk, or water in their bottles.
5. Keep bottles out of the crib.
When children have bottles in the crib, they tend to drink very slowly, which means liquids like formula and milk rest on their teeth for longer periods of time. This allows plenty of time for the bacteria in plaque to feed on the sugars in these beverages and release acids onto their teeth—leading to decay. Therefore, to prevent baby bottle decay, allow babies to finish their bottle before going to bed. You can also fill the bottle with water instead of milk in order to safeguard their teeth.
6. Only use clean pacifiers.
Avoid dipping your baby’s pacifiers in anything like sugar or honey, as this can lead to baby bottle decay in the long run. You should also avoid holding their pacifier in your own mouth, as this can transfer harmful, cavity-causing bacteria to their mouth.
7. Schedule your child’s first dentist appointment.
To help start your child on the right foot with their oral health, make sure you schedule their first visit to the dentist by their first birthday. This can help you to protect your child from tooth decay, as well as check in on their tooth development. By starting off early, you can help them to have a lifetime of good oral health.
Are you ready to schedule your baby’s first dentist appointment? Call Advanced Family Dental & Orthodontics at Mt. Olive today to plan your visit!