As a parent, protecting your baby from illness is a top priority. We safe-proof our children from all of the obvious threats – we ensure they have the necessary shots, we put covers on the electrical outlets and we quarantine them from anyone with a slight cough. Amid the many worries, it’s easy to forget babies need our help to maintain good dental health too.
Babies are born without the bacteria that causes cavities. It is actually us, their parents and care-givers, who put them at risk by transferring germs via saliva. This can happen by sharing silverware, testing baby’s food before feeding him/her and any other activity where saliva is shared. These germs can begin the cavity-causing process before babies have teeth. But, if you implement the following tips, you can help keep your baby’s teeth cavity-free and in good health.
- Keep your own teeth healthy by brushing them with toothpaste that contains fluoride.
- Do not put anything in your baby’s mouth that has been in your mouth.
- Do not use your spit to clean your baby’s pacifier.
- Schedule your baby’s first dental visit with a pediatric dentist for when he/she is one-year-old. At the appointment, be sure to discuss the type of toothpaste your baby should use, specifically whether or not it should contain fluoride.
- Before your baby’s first tooth is visible, wipe his/her mouth daily with a soft, moist cloth.
- Once teeth are visible, use a small, soft-bristle toothbrush with a pea-sized smear of your dentist’s recommended toothpaste to brush your baby’s teeth twice a day.
- Avoid giving your baby sticky or unhealthy snacks such as candy, soda or juice.
- If you see white spots on your baby’s teeth, take him/her to the dentist immediately. White spots are often the first sign of a cavity.
For more information on keeping your baby’s teeth cavity-free, please visit the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry website.