Tricia Mool reported infant oral care that is safe and effective for the Oral Care Center at Colgate.com. “It’s crucial that you have the right information early on when it comes to infant oral care,” she said. “Even though your child’s first teeth are temporary, they are still susceptible to decay and infection, and mothers can actually transfer damaging bacteria to their infants, according to the American Dental Association’s (ADA) Mouth Healthy site.”
The ADA explains that, “Tooth decay in infants and toddlers is often referred to as Baby Bottle Tooth Decay, or Early Childhood Caries.” The upper front teeth is where you’re most likely to find Baby Bottle Tooth Decay but it may impact other teeth as well.
According to the ADA, Baby Bottle Tooth Decay can be caused by a number of different things. “One common cause is the frequent, prolonged exposure of the baby’s teeth to drinks that contain sugar,” they say. “Tooth decay can occur when the baby is put to bed with a bottle, or when a bottle is used as a pacifier for a fussy baby.”
Sadly, parents or other primary caregivers may unwittingly pass cavity-causing bacteria to an infant. You see, tooth decay is actually a disease caused by bacteria in your mouth. The experts at the ADA point out, “These bacteria are passed through the saliva. When the mother puts the baby’s feeding spoon in her mouth, or cleans a pacifier in her mouth, the bacteria can be passed to the baby.”
Before you start to despair, you should know that there is good news. Baby Bottle Tooth Decay is preventable! Here are some recommendations from the American Dental Association that will help you keep your baby’s teeth safe:
- Try not to share saliva with the baby through common use of feeding spoons or licking pacifiers. After each feeding, wipe your child’s gums with a clean, damp gauze pad or washcloth.
- When your child’s teeth come in, brush them gently with a child-size toothbrush and a smear (or grain of rice sized amount) of fluoride toothpaste until the age of 3, when your child can graduate to a toddler toothbrush.
- Brush the teeth with a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste from the ages of 3 to 6.
- Supervise brushing until your child can be counted on to spit and not swallow toothpaste—usually not before he or she is 6 or 7.
- Place only formula, milk or breast milk in bottles. Avoid filling the bottle with liquids such as sugar water, juice or soft drinks.
- Infants should finish their bedtime and nap time bottles before going to bed.
- If your child uses a pacifier, provide one that is clean—don’t dip it in sugar or honey.
- Encourage your child to drink from a cup by his/her first birthday.
- Encourage healthy eating habits.
The ADA also recommends that you talk to your dentist about bringing your baby in for his or her first visit when the first precious little primary tooth makes an appearance. “Treat the first dental visit as you would a well-baby checkup with the child’s physician,” is their suggestion. “Remember: starting early is the key to a lifetime of good dental health.”
Raleigh pediatric dentists Dr. Buddy Hollowell and Dr. Allen Porter believe a child’s first visit is important – not just as a way to provide professional oral care but also as a way to set the tone for a positive lifelong attitude toward dentistry. We really work hard to make sure your child is comfortable – and we want to make sure you’re comfortable and relaxed, as well.