Caring For Your Baby's Oral Health
As soon as primary teeth start coming in, tooth decay becomes a potential risk for your child. At this early stage, regular dental hygiene is fundamental in the prevention of early childhood tooth decay.
How early should my child visit the dentist?
The Canadian Dental Association Recommends that a child should be brought to the dentist for assessment within 6 months of the eruption of the first tooth, or by the time the child is a year old. This may seem surprisingly young, but there are a few good reasons that your child should visit the dentist this early.
- You can find out if what you're doing at home to clean your child's teeth is effective.
- The dentist will be able to identify and treat emerging dental problems, such as decay, crowding or misalignment of teeth.
- Your child will start getting used to going to the dentist early, which lessens the likelihood of anxiety.
Baby (primary) teeth are extremely important to your child's oral and overall health. Getting started with regular dental care early will help ensure that these teeth stay strong and healthy.
Early Childhood Tooth Decay
Repeated, prolonged exposure to sugary drinks and food can contribute to early childhood tooth decay.
Bottles can be particularly problematic when it comes to this issue, since babies often won’t go to sleep without a bottle. If the bottle is filled with formula or juice, prolonged exposure can become an issue.
To lower your baby’s chances of tooth decay:
- Instead of juice or milk, fill the bottle with water.
- If you are giving your baby juice or mil, dilute it with water, to get your baby used to the change gradually.
- Substitute the bottle for a favorite toy or clean pacifier.
- Be comforting but firm; change is never easy, but your baby will get used to it!
Sippy Cups... Do They Affect Baby Teeth?
Sippy cups are convenient for parents, but they can also cause tooth decay, just like bottles can. They’re a great tool for getting your child accustomed to drinking from a cup rather than a bottle, but sippy cups should be used moderately, as a transition tool only. It's best to avoid extended periods of use. Be sure to fill the sippy cup with water if your child takes it to bed.
Caring for Your Baby’s Teeth at Home
Before primary teeth emerge:
With a clean, damp cloth placed over your index finger, carefully wipe your baby’s gums after each meal. Clean the front, back and flat surfaces. Clean your baby's gums after each feeding (whether your baby is breastfed or bottle fed).
After primary teeth begin erupting:
Once your baby has his or her first tooth, you can start cleaning it, and once two teeth have emerged next to each other, you can start flossing!
You can continue to use a cloth and water while your child is under 3, or you can start transitioning to a toothbrush and toothpaste if you think your child is ready. Just remember to use only tiny amounts of toothpaste at first, until your child gets used to it.
Most pharmacies stock toothbrushes for children in various age-appropriate sizes. You can also find toothpaste with kid-friendly flavours. When choosing floss, pick a soft, flexible style, such as 'ribbon' floss.
Download the FREE SmileTown Kids' Activity Booklet.
A great resource to help get your kids ready – and excited – to visit the dentist.
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