Caring for a baby or toddler’s dental health is very different that caring for your own or an older child’s. Here are a few pieces of advice for ensuring the littlest members of you family start life with healthy, cavity-free smiles. We want their first visits to the dentist to be enjoyable learning experiences, not fixing cavities!
Put Only Water in Bottles & Sippy Cups
While many children are soothed by a bottle to suck on at bedtime or naptime, this can do much more harm that good! Placating your child with a bottle of milk, formula, juice or other sweetened drinks may stop them from crying or fussing, it gives the bacteria in your child’s mouth plenty of fuel for causing cavities in his or her brand new teeth. Even after your child is done drinking, the sugar stays in their mouth, pooling around teeth. If a bottle is a necessary part of yours and baby’s routine, we suggest filling it with water instead.
This same logic also goes for sippy cups for toddlers kids. Giving your child free access to milk or juice in a sippy cup is asking for cavities. Give them water only!
Provide a Healthy Diet & Minimize Snacking
Just like adults, kids with balanced diets are less likely to get cavities. A balanced diet means minimizing sugars and starches while including plenty of fiber, protein and minerals. Unfortunately, many of the snacks that are traditionally given to children contain a lot of sugar and starch (which gets broken down into sugar by saliva in the mouth). Snacking exposes your child’s teeth to tooth decay-causing food more often than necessary. We suggest avoiding between-meal snacks as much as possible and choosing healthy snacks like raw vegetables when you do give your child snacks.
If Your Teeth Aren’t Healthy, Don’t Share
The bacteria that cause tooth decay are contagious, just like the other microbes in your mouth. If you have tooth decay, gum disease, or are very cavity-prone, refrain from sharing utensils and cups with your child. And don’t “clean off” a pacifier (soother) that dropped on the ground by putting it in your own mouth. This is bad news for both of you!
When in doubt, ask the dentist for dental health advice! Remember, the dentist is a great resource for dental care advice for patients of any age. Most of the advice that applies to babies and kids applies to grown-ups, too.