Baby bottle tooth decay is caused by frequent and long-term exposure of a child’s teeth to liquids containing sugars. Among these liquids are milk, formula, fruit juice, sodas, and other sweetened drinks. This is especially prevalent before bedtime or nap-time. You should not use the feeding bottle as a pacifier. Dr. Postol recommends that if you must give your baby a bottle at bedtime or nap-time, do not let them fall asleep with it still in their mouth. You should also not give a baby a pacifier that has been dipped in honey or sugar.
Mouth care should begin at birth. After each feeding, gently wipe your baby’s gums with a soft, damp washcloth or gauze pad.
Boy, can they be cranky! The discomfort your baby feels when teeth start coming into the mouth can cause irritations. You can ease some of the discomfort with a clean finger or a wet gauze pad. A cool teething ring can also help to soothe your baby’s tender gums. When the teeth first appear, begin using a children’s soft-bristle toothbrush or small wet gauze to clean their mouth on a daily basis. Cleaning your baby’s teeth after each meal instills good habits early in life.
Teeth begin forming in your baby even before birth. All 20 primary (baby) teeth are present in the jawbones at birth. The two lower front teeth are the first to erupt somewhere between 6-9 months after birth. Do not be concerned if your baby is a little late. By age 3, all 20 baby teeth should be present.
You should start brushing your child’s teeth as soon as they appear. Begin brushing with a child-sized toothbrush and a pea-sized dab of fluoridated toothpaste for at least one minute twice a day. Most children are also getting fluoride from tap water.
Because children’s hands and mouths are different than adults, they need toothbrushes specifically designed for them. A fat handle toothbrush is easier for them to control. A child’s toothbrush should have soft bristles with rounded ends for safe and gentle cleaning of their teeth and delicate gum tissue.
Help your child brush at night – the most important time to brush, due to lower salivary flow and higher susceptibility to cavities and plaque. You should let the child brush their teeth first to build self-confidence, then the parent can follow up to ensure that all plaque is removed, especially the back teeth. Usually, by age 6 your child can brush their teeth on their own with proper parental instruction.
Helpful Hint: If your child cannot tie their shoes, they do not have the manual dexterity to brush their teeth. Even after the age of 6, parents still need to monitor their children’s brushing habits. We see kids everyday that do not brush their teeth on a daily basis.
One of the best ways to keep your child brushing their teeth is to provide them an ADA accepted fluoride toothpaste that is pleasing and easy to use. Find one that they like, as the taste of a toothpaste can make brushing a more enjoyable experience, leading to an increase in the frequency and length of time of brushing. Brushing twice a day results in increased fluoride applications and more opportunities to remove plaque.
For more information on keeping your baby’s teeth healthy, contact us today!