Oral Health Buzz
Infant Dental Care: The Basics
Most babies don't start getting teeth until they are six months old. However, infant dental care is important even before teeth emerge. In fact, most dentists recommend a first visit by the child's first birthday to make sure teeth are cared for properly, even if all of their teeth haven't come in yet.
Baby Bottle Tooth Decay
Preventing baby bottle tooth decay or also called "early childhood dental caries" is one of the most important issues in infant tooth care. This condition occurs when the baby falls asleep with milk, formula or juice in his mouth. The sugars in the liquids pool inside the mouth and lead to cavities in both the top and bottom teeth.
To avoid baby bottle tooth decay, never let a child fall asleep with a bottle in his or her mouth or to nurse continuously as he snoozes. If your baby needs something to suck on to fall asleep, offer a bottle filled with water or a pacifier.
It is also important to wipe the baby's gums and teeth with a wet gauze square or washcloth after each feeding. This removes any sugary substances left in the mouth and reduces the risk of tooth decay.
Infants need to have fluoride for healthy tooth development, even before the first teeth break through the surface of the gum tissue. Fluoride helps to strengthens the enamel of the teeth. Many towns will add fluoride to their municipal water supplies. Check with your local township to see if fluoride is incorporated into your city water. If it isn't, a dentist or pediatrician can prescribe fluoride supplements for your child to take.
It's a good idea to get babies used to receiving dental care at a young age. This can be done by using a small, soft toothbrush on their gums, even before they have teeth. Lightly brush the gums and teeth as they come in without toothpaste.
By following these steps, your little one will be on their way to a great smile! Learn more about infant dental care in the Colgate Oral Care Resources Center.