Congratulations! You are the proud parent of a new baby boy or girl. It is never too soon to begin thinking about how to protect your child’s teeth and steps to take to keep your baby’s teeth healthy and strong.
Many parents believe that because they are called ‘baby’ teeth, and that they fall out, dental care is really not necessary until permanent (adult) teeth begin to come in. This is not true. In fact, baby teeth are just as important as permanent teeth and are susceptible to cavities, decay and loss. Children need these baby teeth to help to learn to talk and speak, and to eat food and chew. The other important part of baby teeth is that if the first teeth are healthy and come in correctly, adult teeth will almost always do the same thing.
Many infants end up with tooth decay in the front of the mouth (the front teeth), and this is sometimes called baby bottle tooth decay. To help prevent tooth decay in your baby, there are several things that parents should do.
Try to limit or eliminate drinks that contain sugar. Most tooth decay is caused from frequent and long exposure to sugary drinks. Sugars are found in juices, so limit the amount of juice your child has. Never send baby to bed with her bottle, even if the bottle just has milk. Milks and formulas also have sugars in them, and the constant and prolonged exposure to the bottle and liquid can cause cavities.
Never eat after your baby and then use that spoon for baby again. Adults have larger amounts of bacteria in their mouths, and this bacteria can cause frequent and numerous cavities in babies.
If baby uses a pacifier, do not dip the pacifier in syrup or other sugars to help quiet a ‘fussy’ baby. While this may work for a bit, it leads to cavities and tooth and gum disease in the infant.
The good news is that tooth decay in babies is completely preventable. Schedule your infant’s first visit with a pediatric dentist when their first teeth begin to appear. In this way baby becomes used to seeing the dentist and it is just a routine visit.
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