Caring For Your Baby's Oral Health
Tooth decay becomes a potential risk for your child as soon as the baby teeth start to emerge. At this early stage in your baby's development, regular dental hygiene is fundamental component in preventing of early childhood tooth decay.
How what age should my child first visit the dentist?
According to the Canadian Dental Association, children should visit the dentist for assessment within 6 months of the eruption of the first tooth, or by the time they are 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 how effective what you're doing at home to clean your child's teeth is.
- The dentist will be able to identify and treat developing dental problems, such as decay, crowding or misalignment of teeth, early.
- Your child will become accustomed to to going to the dentist at an early age, which lessens the likelihood of anxiety when he or she is older.
Baby (primary) teeth are a very important part of your child's oral and overall health. Initiating regular dental care early on will help ensure that these teeth stay strong and healthy.
Early Childhood Tooth Decay
Repeated and/or prolonged exposure to sugary drinks and food can lead to to early childhood tooth decay.
When it comes to this issue, bottles can be especially problematic, since babies often won’t go to sleep without them.
When the bottle is filled with formula or juice, prolonged exposure can become an issue.
To lower your baby’s chances of tooth decay:
- Fill the bottle with water as opposed to milk or juice
- When you do give your baby juice or milk, dilute it with water.
- Instead of the bottle, give your baby a favorite toy or clean pacifier.
- Be comforting but firm; change can be hard, but you baby will adjust!
Sippy Cups... Do They Affect Baby Teeth?
While they're a great tool for getting your child used to drinking from a cup instead of a bottle, sippy cups should be used as a transition tool only, and not as a replacement for a bottle.
It's best to avoid extended periods of use, and 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:
Place a clean, damp cloth over your index finger, and after each meal, use it to carefully wipe your baby’s gums. Wipe down the front, back and flat surfaces. Clean your baby's gums after each feeding (whether your baby is bottle- or breastfed).
After primary teeth begin erupting:
When your baby's first teeth start emerging, you can start brushing and flossing them immediately.
You may choose to continue with the cloth and water while your child is under 3, or you can start the transition to a toothbrush and toothpaste if you think your child is ready. At first, only tiny amounts of toothpaste, to give your child a chance to get used to it.
Pharmacies usually stock toothbrushes for children in various age-appropriate sizes, and you can also find toothpaste in mild, kid-friendly flavours. When choosing floss, go for a soft, flexible variety, such as 'ribbon' floss.
Download the FREE Smile Town Children's Activity Book.
A great resource to help get your kids ready – and excited – about visiting the dentist.
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