Seattle Dentist: Watching Out for Early Childhood Caries

Strong, Healthy Baby Teeth do not Just Happen

Caring for baby’s teeth will tremendously help in the straight and orderly eruption of permanent teeth. Do not think that though baby’s teeth will fall out anyway to be replaced by permanent dentition, caring for his primary teeth is not that important.

Mothers shouldn’t be feeding their infants with too much sugary foods and liquids. Drinks like punch, gelatin, juices and even formula milk are high in sugar and tend to stick to tooth surfaces. The frequency and length of exposure to sweets will obviously increase sugar contact with the enamel. Many times the mother will let her child go to sleep with the feeding bottle, acting like a pacifier.

These tendencies will increase the rate of dental caries and tooth decay. While breast milk tends to slow bacterial growth and acid production, alternated with sugary foods or drinks will increase the rate of tooth decay faster than with sugar alone.

It is best that after feeding from formula or mother’s milk, babies are given water to hydrate their mouths and also wash out the sugar introduced. Babies must not be accustomed to sleeping with their milk bottles, but water should replace milk instead. The bottle must be withdrawn as soon as the child has fallen asleep. Mothers ought to begin teaching their child to drink from a cup at around 6 months of age and to try to stop using a bottle by age 12 – 14 months. Intake of juices should be reduced to fewer than 6 ounces per day during meals.

After each feeding, gently wipe the child’s teeth and gums with a clean washcloth or gauze to remove plaque. Toothbrushing with soft bristles can start as soon as the child has teeth, done at least at bedtime. A small amount of non-fluoridated toothpaste on a washcloth to rub gently on their teeth is alright. At 6 months or older, use fluoridated water or a fluoride supplement or use bottled water with fluoride. Inspect the child’s teeth regularly and begin dental visits when all of the baby teeth have erupted or at age 2 or 3, whichever comes first.

Baby’s First Visit to Downtown Seattle Dentist

Be sure to introduce your baby to his dentist as soon as the child has erupted all his baby teeth. Know more about caring for his oral health with an early start. It’s never too early to avoid caries.