Normally parents don’t think that their baby and dental health go hand-in-hand. Most people actually don’t associate the two together. One would think that a person needs to have a mouthful of teeth before dental health needs to be taken into account. Unfortunately, this is a huge misconception which needs to be addressed. Babies get their first tooth somewhere between 6-12 months old. When a baby sprouts just one tooth, dental health needs to be thought of. Just one little tooth is susceptible to all kinds of infections and cavities! Whether you breast feed or bottle feed your baby, you must keep an eye out for tooth infections or decay. Any sweet liquids whether it be breast milk, formula, or juice can stick to your baby’s tooth or teeth which can lead to bacteria forming and ultimately tooth decay. Tooth decay is invisible at the beginning stages and the term for baby tooth decay is “baby bottle tooth decay” or “early childhood dental caries.” If you spot any discoloration around your baby’s teeth that is typically tan, brown, or black in color, or see any visible pits, make a dental appointment immediately. Most family dentists recommend having your baby make his or her first dental visit when the first tooth appears or after his or her first birthday.
How to Prevent Your Baby from Tooth Decay
There are preventative measures you can take to minimize the chance of your baby’s teeth decaying. We have made a list of things you can do:
- Use a clean damp cloth to gently wipe away the breast milk, formula, or juice from around and on your baby’s teeth, including the gums.
- If your baby falls asleep during feeding, take the breast or bottle from your baby’s mouth so the sweet liquid doesn’t form around your baby’s tooth/teeth which can cause bacteria to form.
- Avoid dipping your baby’s pacifier in anything sweet.
- When your baby gets his or her first tooth, start brushing that tooth and the others that continue to appear with a soft child’s toothbrush and clean water. Discuss with your family dentist when to start using toothpaste on your child’s teeth and what brand is most recommended.
- Remember: If you notice any discoloration or pits forming around your baby’s teeth, make a dental appointment immediately.
These simple steps can prevent your child from tooth decay. Teaching your baby about proper dental health from the minute his or her first tooth appears will instill proper dental hygiene in his or her little life that will more than likely stay with them the rest of their lives. As your child gets older, avoid sweet or processed sugar sodas and juices to keep your child’s chances of cavities and tooth decay to a minimum.