Oral health has been found to impact overall health so it is important to instill good habits at a young age. Baby/primary teeth have four functions:
Eating Talking Smiling Saving space for the permanent teeth
1. Tooth decay is contagious! Babies do not have the bacteria that cause cavities when they are born. They “catch” the bacteria from their parents or siblings. This is unavoidable, but parents can delay this by:
- kissing those cute cheeks, not the baby’s lips.
- not putting baby’s spoons, bottles or pacifiers in your mouth to test or “clean.”
- frequently washing toys, especially those handled by other children.
2. Pacifiers are important for some babies.
- If used correctly, orthodontic pacifiers satisfy the sucking needs that some babies have without causing orthodontic problems. Popular brands include Nuk and Avent.
- Try to limit pacifier use to sleep time and brief soothing times during the day.
- 2-3 years of age is the suggested goal to discontinue pacifier use.
3. Cleaning your baby’s gums and teeth.
- Soft bristled toothbrushes are designed for gums so parents can clean your baby’s mouth before teeth start erupting.
- After the last evening feeding, use a wet toothbrush to gently brush the gums.
- Begin using a “smear” of toothpaste when the teeth begin to erupt.
4. Visit the dentist at 1 year of age.
- It is important to start a prevention program and identify problems early to avoid painful and expensive treatment later.
- Early visits help your child develop a positive relationship with the dental team.
- Families may be eligible for assistance from the I-Smile Dental Home Initiative.
- Visit http://www.ismiledentalhome.iowa.gov/ for more information
5. Food habits that affect your baby’s oral health.
- Only put formula, milk or water in your baby’s bottle.
- Try to wean around their first birthday.
- Do not put a bottle in bed with your baby or only have water in the bottle.
- Limit juice to 4-8 oz. per day, in a cup, at a mealtime.
- Be careful with sippy cup use, encourage water in between meals.