6 Tips for Proper Dental Care in Your Baby's First Year

6 Tips for Proper Dental Care in Your Baby's First Year
Posted on 05/02/2017
6 Tips for Proper Dental Care in Your Baby's First Year

Even though your child will start losing them in elementary school, baby teeth are essential for your little one's ongoing dental health. They allow your child to chew and to develop proper speech patterns, and they guide the adult teeth into place. A lifetime of good dental health starts with proper dental care during your child's first year of life. Follow these six tips for a healthy first year!

Provide Fluoridated Water

Fluoride is a mineral that's essential for strong, decay-resistant teeth. It's important that your child's teeth are exposed to enough fluoride early on, as this will help prevent cavities throughout his or her lifetime.

Ensure your child's fluoride needs are met by giving him or her fluoridated water. Public tap water in many municipalities is fluoridated, but many brands of bottled water are not. If you opt for bottled water, check the label to ensure it contains fluoride.

Some parents have concerns about the safety of fluoride, but rest assured. Though fluoride can be toxic at high doses, the amount contained in drinking water is far too small to cause any issues. Remember that fluoride is a mineral that occurs naturally in the earth, much like calcium and magnesium. It is not a drug or medication.

Don't Put Your Baby to Bed With a Bottle

Putting your baby to bed with a bottle may seem like a good way to encourage him or her to drift off to sleep. However, the sugars in the milk or juice you put in the bottle remain on the teeth all night, feeding oral bacteria that release decay-causing acids. Before long, your little one's teeth may develop serious patterns of decay.

This condition is known as "baby bottle tooth decay," and it can be quite serious, leading to deep cavities, pain, and even lost baby teeth. Luckily, it is almost always preventable if you don't put your baby to bed with a bottle. Use a plain pacifier instead. (Just don't dip it in juice or honey.)

Limit Juice Consumption

Juice is often seen as a healthy choice because it's made from fruit and contains plenty of vitamins and minerals. However, because it is high in sugar and can lead to tooth decay, it should only be given to babies in moderation.

The American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend giving juice to babies under six months of age at all. For children over six months, they recommend limiting juice consumption to four to six ounces per day.

When you do give your child juice, try to do so at mealtimes rather than between meals. This will minimize the time that the sugar sits directly on the teeth. Never give juice to your child just before bedtime, either. Try diluting juice with water to extend your child's enjoyment and dilute the sugars.

Start Good Gum and Tooth Brushing Routines

Before your baby's first tooth even emerges, you can begin good oral care habits by rubbing your baby's gums with a soft, damp cloth after feeding times. This will help keep oral bacteria at bay. Once your baby's first tooth erupts, clean it with a very soft baby toothbrush and a tiny dab of toothpaste.

When cleaning your baby's teeth, use toothpaste that contains fluoride to help the enamel grow stronger. There are toothpastes made specifically for young children; they're made in child-friendly flavors like bubble gum and cherry. Just check to ensure the toothpaste you choose is approved by the ADA as this ensures it is safe and effective.

Don't Share Saliva

Parents sometimes pre-chew food and then give it to their children. It's also common to share utensils with babies or taste food off the baby's spoon. While these practices may seem convenient and caring, they're not great for your baby's oral health as they introduce the oral bacteria in your mouth to your baby's mouth.

Try to avoid sharing utensils with your baby. If you want to taste his or her food or test its temperature, use a separate spoon. Similarly, avoid licking your child's pacifier and otherwise sharing saliva with your little one.

Make Your Child's First Dental Appointment

The American Dental Association recommends that parents schedule their baby's first dental appointment as soon as the first tooth erupts and before their baby's first birthday. During this first appointment, your dentist will make sure your baby's teeth are erupting properly, check for any signs of decay or abnormalities in the enamel, and give you more personalized advice for caring for your baby's teeth.

 Try to make your baby's first dental appointment when you know he or she will be most relaxed and cooperative. For many babies, morning is the best time to see the dentist. Working with a qualified pediatric dentist, like those at Treasured Smiles Dentistry will also ensure the experience is a good one for you and your child.

Good dental care during your baby's first year will set him or her up for a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums. With the tips above and the guidance of a good pediatric dentist, your baby's teeth will be in good hands.