As a parent, you probably try to stay informed about your little one's health. When you attend checkups and read books and articles about best practices, you are helping your baby get the best possible start in life. You may already know that putting your little one down at night with a bottle can lead to baby bottle tooth decay, but what you might not know is that other habits can lead to early dental issues. By staying educated on your baby's oral health from an early date, you help to ensure healthy teeth — even though your baby has a gummy smile right now!
Bacteria and Tooth Decay
Did you know that you can pass decay-inducing bacteria into your little one's mouth? The American Dental Association warns that, when you clean a pacifier by popping it into your mouth, and when you share spoons with your solid-eating older infant, you introduce bacteria from your mouth into your baby's. That bacteria can lead to cavities, so it's always best to provide your baby with a clean spoon or pacifier. Keeping extras handy will save you when your baby tosses a pacifier on the floor.
While you might know that your infant can't have juice in bed, baby bottle tooth decay can occur with any sweetened liquid. This includes even breast milk if your baby falls asleep while nursing or with unswallowed milk in the mouth, warns the American Academy of Pediatrics. When sugar is introduced into and held in the mouth, oral bacteria feed on it and create acids that eat away at baby tooth enamel. The only fluid that won't cause this is plain, unsweetened water. If you must put your baby to bed with a bottle, make sure it contains only water.
Baby Teeth Brushing
Your baby may not have teeth, but that doesn't mean you can skip oral hygiene altogether. You can ward off baby bottle tooth decay by wiping your little one's gums after feedings to get rid of bacteria and sugar particles. When your little one has finished eating, use a clean gauze square or washcloth dipped in water to clean the gums. You can also try using My First Colgate™ Infant and Toddler Toothpaste, which is safe if swallowed. Not only will it help your baby's gums stay clean, but it's also a great oral hygiene habit to start.
Talk to your pediatrician if you have questions about your baby's oral hygiene. By getting a good start during the first year, you can support healthier teeth as your baby grows and develops into a curious toddler and, eventually, a precocious preschooler.