Infant Oral Care
Oral Care During Pregnancy & Parenthood
Taking care of your baby’s oral health begins long before their first toothbrush. In fact, The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends that all pregnant women receive oral healthcare and counseling during pregnancy. Studies have proven a link between a mother’s periodontal health and preterm birth and low birth weight. Additional research has shown that cavity-causing bacteria in the mouth due to poor oral care can be passed on to young children.
Here are some guidelines to reduce the risk of spreading bacteria:
Visit your dentist or hygienist at least twice a year for cleanings and exams.
Eat a balanced diet and reduce or eliminate sugary and starchy foods and drinks. If you give your child juice, water it down to reduce the high level of sugar.
Brush twice a day and floss at least once daily.
Use a fluoridated toothpaste recommended by the ADA and rinse every night with an alcohol-free, over-the-counter mouth rinse with .05 % sodium fluoride to reduce plaque levels.
Don’t share utensils, cups or food. This can spread cavity-causing bacteria to your children.
A sugar-free chewing gum containing xylitol can help reduce a child’s risk of developing cavities. Limit use to four pieces per day.
Don’t use your saliva to rinse pacifiers, toys, or utensils that go in your child’s mouth.
When Will My Baby Start Getting Teeth?
Your child’s first teeth to come in are usually the bottom front teeth, and this happens between six and nine months old. Keep in mind this is just a guideline because all babies develop differently.
Baby Bottle Tooth Decay (Early Childhood Cavities)
Sugary food and drink left on the teeth produce acids that can erode the strong enamel of a tooth causing a cavity or decay. Baby bottle tooth decay is also called early childhood caries and is caused by prolonged exposure of your child’s teeth to sugary drinks from a bottle or sippy cup given at naptime or bedtime. Bacteria in the mouth thrive on sugar and produce acids that attack the teeth. Oral bacteria can also be passed mouth to mouth by sharing utensils and by using your mouth to clean your child’s pacifier before placing it in their mouth. Preventing this decay is simple!
Help your child brush their teeth after meals, snacks, and bottles to establish good home care habits and to remove food particles and debris.
Don’t give a child a bottle filled with sugary drinks or juices.
Reserve bottles only for feeding, not as a convenient sippy cup.
Don’t let your child go to bed with a bottle unless it contains just water.