As we mentioned in a previous post, dental care for our little ones begins well before they’re born! That’s because what mom eats and how she takes care of her own teeth during pregnancy does everything from providing the vitamins and minerals needed for the baby’s teeth to form to reducing the baby’s risk for dental decay later in life.
Of course, baby care goes into high gear after birth. Caring for a new one’s gums and teeth, however few there are, should be high on the list of a new parent’s priorities, post-natally and beyond. The latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention research shows that cavities are on the rise among the youngest of grinners.
Here’s a list of baby-care basics to shoo off dental decay – a chronic disease affecting too many of today’s toddlers.
- Keep Cavities to Yourself
Did you know that cavities are contagious? The bacteria which causes them, streptococcus mutans, may be spread from parent to child, and according to Parents, moms are more likely to “share” than dads. Even if you haven’t had cavities for decades, your mouth will contain some level of these oral bacteria.
Babies aren’t born with streptococcus mutans; as infants, they could catch them from your saliva. So before you share your spoon or “pre-chew” your young one’s food, remember that when a baby contracts oral bacteria as an infant, she is more likely to experience dental decay as an adult.
- Skip the Sippy Cup
You’ve been impressed with those balancing skills and strong lungs. Once the baby hits six months old, you may be surprised at how readily he drinks from a regular cup versus a bottle or sippy cup. Even if your baby starts with a sippy cup when drinking on his own, switch him to a regular cup before too long. Along with bottles, sippy cups are known for letting the sugars in milk pool and flourish around the teeth.
- Start the Brushing Routine
Keep the baby’s mouth sparkling to match that bright smile. Wipe her gums with a wet washcloth, and begin brushing new teeth with water. You’ll be tickled at how quickly it takes given the size of those chompers, especially when there are only one or two of them at that. By the time your baby hits that big first year, switch to a fluoride-free paste. It’s a green light on fluoride once they learn to spit it out.
- Snack Selectively
Who knew watching a baby eat could be so much fun? Among the sights, colors, and sounds of the world, the textures and flavors of food are an amazing (and yummy) discovery for a baby. Parents also get satisfaction from knowing their children are well-nourished. Healthy snacks like yogurt, sliced fruits and veggies, and cheese are good for the baby’s stomach and teeth; unlike starchy snacks like crackers and bread, such choices don’t cling so readily to the surface.
- Come See Us
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and the American Dental Association recommend bringing your child in to a dentist within the first year. It’s an important way to start the baby on a lifelong path of beaming dental health. As your baby’s biggest advocate, you want only the best when it comes to his care.
Pediatric dentists are specially trained to understand your child’s tooth formation and anticipate his behavior in the office. Going to the dentist can be fun, especially when you know your baby care basics at home!