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Caring for Tiny Teeth

Before your infant goes off to sleep at the end of the day, you should do more than kiss the little one good night. Make sure your baby’s teeth avoid risk of baby bottle tooth decay.

Baby bottle tooth decay happens when sweetened liquid, juice, milk, or formula stay in the mouth for a long period of time, such as when a baby sucks on a bottle before sleeping. The carbohydrates, or sugars, in the drink are metabolized by mouth bacteria that produce acid that can eat away the enamel of the teeth. This can result in cavities.

You can fight decay by keeping your baby’s mouth clean. Even before the first teeth appear, wipe the gums after each feeding. Massage the gums in toothless areas.

Tips for keeping your baby’s gums and teeth healthy include:

  • Wipe a child’s gums after meals beginning shortly after birth. This will get your child used to a daily oral routine. Begin to gently brush your baby’s teeth when the first tooth appears. You can use a baby sized brush and a tiny smear of toothpaste, about the size of a grain of rice.

  • Never put your child to bed with a bottle filled with sweetened liquids, juice, milk or formula.

  • Drinks should be offered from a cup as soon as your child is ready to use one, usually by his or her first birthday.

  • Except for water, drinks in a bottle or cup should be finished in a short time period, about one hour. Talk to your pediatrician about dental care for your baby, and take your child in for the first dental visit within 6 months of eruption of the first tooth. Your dentist can start your child on a lasting program of dental care.

“Frequently Asked Questions for Parents.” American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. www.mychildrensteeth.org/education/faq/ Accessed 2013.

“Baby Bottle Tooth Decay.” Mouth Healthy, American Dental Association. www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/b/baby-bottle-tooth-decay Accessed 2013.

“Dental Care for Your Baby.” American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. d27vj430nutdmd.cloudfront.net/17242/64415/64415.1.pdf Accessed 2013.

“ADA Statement on Early Childhood Caries.” American Dental Academy www.ada.org/2057.aspx Accessed 2013.

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