Good oral hygiene is developed as soon as babies are born. The daily habits you form now with your little one can effect the health of their teeth and gums as they grow and develop.
1. Tooth Decay and Babies
Tooth decay occurs in babies as a result of long-term exposure to milk, juice, formula and breast milk. Saliva usually helps to naturally wash teeth and gums, but since saliva production is reduced during sleep, the substances pool around and stick to teeth. Acid is produced that forms plaque and rots away babies’ teeth. This kind of decay is seen most often in front top teeth since babies hold nipples against the them with their tongues.
2. Bad Bottle-Feeding Practices
It’s simply not true that your baby’s teeth will suffer if he or she is bottle-fed. There are, however, bottle-feeding practices that are considered bad for your baby and his or her teeth.
Bad bottle-feeding practices include using a bottle as a soothing resource for long periods of time, such as a substitute for a pacifier. Another bad bottle-feeding practice is to put a baby down for a nap or bedtime with a bottle. If a baby is put to bed with a bottle, prolonged exposure to the milk, juice, breast milk or formula can result in dental caries (also known as cavities). If your baby is eating from a bottle and begins falling asleep, gently remove the bottle from his or her mouth.
Allowing babies to sleep with bottles in their mouths is often tied to a condition called “baby bottle mouth,” where a baby’s teeth are decayed and may need to be pulled before they come out on their own. Problems with tooth decay can effect these babies as they grow older, resulting in fillings and caps.
3. Prevent Tooth Decay in Babies
Tooth decay can be prevented in babies. As they grow and develop, there’s no need to offer babies juice in a bottle. Fruit juices and their more sugar-laden alternatives put babies’ teeth in danger, especially when offered in a bottle. If served at all, juice should be introduced in a cup.
Bottle-feeding should be stopped when your baby is between twelve and fourteen months old. Once your child approaches his or her first birthday, introduce sippy or open cups for your baby to practice drinking from them.
4. Visit Doctor
To make sure that your baby starts out with healthy teeth and gums, take your baby to visit a dentist as teeth erupt. Between dental visits, clean your baby’s teeth and gums first with a washcloth, followed by a soft toothbrush made for babies and toddlers. At this stage, toothpaste isn’t necessary, but be sure to introduce the experience with a healthy smile of your own to make this daily habit a positive experience!