Have you heard of “Baby Bottle Tooth Decay?”
When babies are routinely put to bed or fall asleep with a bottle in their mouth, any liquid in that bottle (milk, breast milk, juice, sugar water, sugary drinks or anything other than plain water) will pool around the babies teeth, eventually causing tooth decay. Even breastfed babies who fall asleep while nursing can get tooth decay, although it’s less prevalent than from a bottle-fed baby.
How to prevent cavities in babies and young children:
- Do not give a bottle with sugary substances to your baby to drink.
- If you do give your child juice, make sure it’s 100% juice. No more than 4 ounces a day and never to fall asleep with.
- Do not give your child a bottle when napping or at bedtime with anything in it other than water.
- As your baby’s teeth start to come in, get in the habit of gently brushing them after meals with a soft damp cloth or child’s soft toothbrush and a grain size amount of toothpaste.
- If your child uses a pacifier, provide a clean one to them. Do not use one dipped in sugar, honey, or your own saliva (to clean it off). Your own saliva introduces cavity-causing bacteria from your mouth into their mouth.
- Pacifiers should be discontinued between the age of 2-3 as they can start changing the shape of the child’s mouth and how the teeth line up.
- As soon as your child has 2 teeth touching anywhere, start flossing them. Best to do this twice a day, with the second time before bedtime. After that, no food or drink, other than water until morning.
- Sippy cups are great once kids can hold them, but don’t let them drink out of them all day long. If their teeth are constantly being exposed to liquids of any kind, other than water, it will cause tooth decay.
- Be careful with medicines that are sweetened. Children who are prescribed sweetened medications for chronic health issues have a higher incidence of tooth decay. They may need to brush more often to help prevent cavities.
How soon should your baby see a dentist?
Pediatricians and dentist recommend that you take your baby to see the dentist by their first birthday or within 6 months after their first tooth comes in.
How soon can my child brush without adult supervision?
Most children start brushing their own teeth by the age of 2 or 3 with an adult’s help. Many kids can go it alone by age 6 but flossing skills may not be up to par until around age 10. Have a “family” brushing time, where you get to brush your teeth while they brush theirs. This will help you keep a watchful eye on them. It will also allow you to give helpful pointers, even if they say they don’t need your help anymore.
Start your child on a lifetime path of healthy teeth and gums by teaching them proper oral care and taking them to see the dentist on a regular basis.
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Benjamin Franklin