Protect Your Infant’s Teeth
Before your infant goes to sleep, you should do more than kiss your little one good night. Make sure your baby’s developing teeth are not at risk from nursing or bottle tooth decay.
This happens when juice or milk stays in the mouth while a baby sleeps, especially when sucking on a bottle all night. The sugars are used by bacteria, which produce acid that eats away the enamel of the teeth. This results in cavities. Cavities must be repaired before a tooth needs either a root canal or the tooth to be pulled.
When your baby is awake, saliva bathes the teeth, removing much of the sugar from foods and keeping the bacteria in check. While your baby sleeps, saliva production lessens, and the decay rate increases.
Establish Good Habits
Healthy teeth can last a lifetime. Teach children good dental care at an early age. Even before the first teeth appear, wipe milk or juice off your baby’s gums with a clean washcloth after every feeding. When teeth do appear, brush them with a soft toothbrush after the last feeding before bed and again in the morning. Start flossing your child’s teeth as soon as any two teeth touch. Once children begin brushing their own teeth, supervise them to make sure they are doing a good job. Letting foot sit on the teeth promotes tooth decay, so teach children to brush after meals.
Healthy Teeth Tips
Experts recommend that by the time a baby is one year old, they should drink from a cup. If a bottle helps a baby settle down, fill it with plain water. Never put a baby to bed with a bottle of milk, juice, or sugary drink.
The American Dental Association (ADA) makes these recommendations:
1. Begin to clean your baby’s mouth during the first few days after birth. Use a soft washcloth and gently wipe along the gums.
2. When teeth begin to appear, the cloth can still be useful, or use a soft-bristled toothbrush without toothpaste.
3.The ADA recommends that children receive their first dental visit within 6 months of tooth eruption and no later than 12 months of age.