When to start cleaning baby’s gums? How to brush your 1-year-old’s teeth? We got you, moms. Learn about proper tooth care and other tips about your child’s oral health here.
In this article, you’ll read:
- How to take care of baby teeth
- When to use toothpaste for baby’s teeth?
- Baby bottle tooth decay natural treatment
We just love seeing our baby’s smile, don’t we? From that toothless grin to that beam with the first tooth until he gets that complete set of teeth.
But what if you start to notice your child’s teeth getting some stains or white spots? Those are the early signs of tooth decay. Yes, tooth decay in young children is possible. Because like us, our babies and toddlers’ teeth need proper care too.
Taking care of baby’s teeth
But the question is, how soon can you start taking care of your baby’s teeth? Is it when he gets his first tooth, when he starts eating solids or even before that?
So many parents are guilty of this: they don’t start on their child’s oral health early, thinking that it’s “just baby teeth,” not their permanent teeth. But as young as they are, their teeth are already susceptible to cavities and they can already get baby tooth decay and it can have an effect on your child’s health, particularly nutrition.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 19 percent of children between the ages of 2 and 19 have untreated cavities. But this can easily be prevented if parents teach their kids about oral health and how to avoid bad dental habits.
“Oral and dental health habits, both good and bad, are formed early,” explained Dr. Richard Dugas, a pediatric dental specialist in Bourne, Mass.
Moreover, taking care of your children’s teeth is very important since healthy teeth can ensure that your kids won’t have any tooth pain or even severe headaches that can be caused by cavities or infected teeth and gums.
“Baby or primary teeth are important because they are key to your child’s overall health, nutrition and development.
Kids who are cavity-free eat more in terms of quantity and variety of food, making physical growth faster,” said Dr. Carmina Gulmatico-Dela Cruz, a pedia dentist and orthodontist from Gulmatico Dental in Las Pinas.
But what could be causing tooth decay? Let’s look at some bad habits that can actually affect your toddler’s oral health.
6 Habits that are bad for your child’s teeth
Breastfeeding in the middle of the night
Moms of newborns and small babies are free to breastfeed their little ones on demand, any time of day. However, if your child’s first tooth starts to show, you may want to avoid those middle of the night feedings, or at least try to clean baby’s mouth and gums afterwards.
It’s because baby teeth can become decayed if it’s overexposed to breast milk at night because of the lactose (sugar content) in it.
“Mothers who continue to breastfeed when baby teeth come in must be willing to clean their baby’s mouth after feeding,” said Dr. Dugas. He suggests gently wiping the leftover milk in baby’s mouth after every feeding.
Letting baby suck on his bottle while asleep
This habit that is common to a lot of toddlers who still use the bottle to fall asleep, is the main cause of baby bottle tooth decay. According to a report from the Huffington Post,
“Nursing Bottle Syndrome or baby bottle tooth decay is caused when baby teeth have contact with liquids containing sugar such as milk, formula or juice for an extended period of time.”
“When children fall asleep while having the bottle or while breast feeding, the milk remains in their mouth all night long,” said Dr. Humairah Shah, a dentist and author of the report
.“Bacteria present in the mouth breaks sugar down into acid, causing tooth decay,” she added.
Sipping on sippy cups or pacifiers all day
While milk is the unsuspected culprit of baby tooth decay, another reason for toddlers to get cavities is when they are lugging around their sippy cups all day long, whether it’s filled with milk, fruit juices or other sugary drinks.
“Constantly sipping milk, juice, or any sweetened liquid does not give a child’s natural saliva a chance to rinse away sugars that cause tooth decay,” explained Dr. Dugas.
Image from iStock
Substituting milk or water with fruit juices
Once the baby starts eating solids, some parents start substituting their child’s milk with fruit juices. But as mentioned, too much sugar can cause cavities.
According to Dr. Renee Ashby, a partner dentist at Shepherds Hill Dental Centre, sugar is the number one preventable reason for tooth decay and other dental problems in children.
“A diet that contains a lot of sugar, especially when eaten frequently, is the main factor contributing to tooth decay in kids,” she said.
Another possible reason for the presence of cavities on baby’s teeth and tooth decay is when your toddler does not receive an adequate amount of fluoride. For this reason, dentists may suggest fluoride treatments for children 6 months and up.
However, too much fluoride can cause fluorosis, a condition that creates white or brown spots on children’s teeth. So while it can be fun to play with gooey toothpaste, it’s important to teach your children not to swallow it — especially if it contains fluoride.
“Until your child is old enough to be able to spit after brushing, you can use non-fluoride toothpaste specially made for kids’ teeth,” said Dr. Dugas.
Putting off your child’s first dental appointment
Many parents make the mistake of waiting until there’s a problem until they bring their child to the dentist for the first time. But a lot of these dental problems could’ve been avoided if they just did it earlier.
The American Dental Association recommends that children visit the dentist within 6 months after their first tooth shows and no later than their first birthday.
Top baby toothbrushes to make brushing time more fun with your little one
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REAL STORIES: “My son got tooth decay from drinking milk.”
Good parenting is the key to a child’s dental health. So don’t put off your child’s oral health and start as early as possible. Here are some tooth care tips to help ensure that your toddler’s teeth are always in tip-top shape!
Tooth care tips for babies and toddlers
When to start cleaning baby’s gums and when to start using a toothbrush?
As early as your baby’s first month, you can already start cleaning his gums and mouth by wiping your baby’s gums using a soft, damp, clean washcloth or gauze twice a day. When baby’s first tooth starts to erupt, you can start using a toothbrush with soft bristles.
Take them to the dentist as early as possible
It’s a good idea to take your kids to the dentist as early as possible so that they can get used to a dentist checking their teeth.
Most kids get scared of the dentist because of stories they hear from their friends or classmates, and sometimes even parents try to use dentists to scare kids. That’s actually a bad idea since if you do that your kid might permanently get scared of the dentist.
Generally, you need to take your kid to the dentist as soon as their first tooth erupts, or on their first birthday, whichever comes first.
Baby bottle tooth decay natural treatment and toddler cavities front teeth treatment
If your child suffers from baby bottle tooth decay or tooth decay in toddlers front teeth, it’s best to consult a dentist to know what the next course of action is. She may recommend fluoride treatment and oral prophylaxis, or even dental fillings to remove the stains and prevent further decay.
As mentioned, letting your toddler sleep with his baby bottle still on his mouth is bad practice. So to prevent this from happening, make it a habit to brush baby teeth before or after drinking milk, and limit feeding bottles and sippy cups to mealtime and snack time. Also, have your child swish and swallow with water after drinking any sugary drink, or even snacks.
When to start using toothpaste for baby’s teeth?
As soon as your child’s first tooth erupts, you can already start brushing their teeth, even with fluoride toothpaste. The key is to know the amount of fluoride in your child’s toothpaste.
For kids who are 3-6 years old, the fluoride content should be just around 1,000 ppm (parts per million). For kids beyond 6 years old, it should be around 1,500 ppm. Remember that you don’t need a lot of toothpaste, just a pea-sized amount would be fine.
Fluoride helps strengthen your child’s teeth, and protects them from cavities, so it’s very important!
Brush twice daily, and don’t forget to floss!
By far, the most important thing that your kids can do to keep their teeth healthy would be to brush twice daily. It’s best for them to brush their teeth in the morning, and before going to sleep at night. That way, any bacteria or residue would be removed from their teeth.
Flossing is just as important since flossing helps remove the dirt and plaque in between their teeth, which simple brushing can’t really deal with. So when your child is big enough, teach them how to floss their teeth as well. Make it a daily routine, and start them young so that they get into the habit as early as possible.
Baby bottle tooth decay and other dental problems in children can be prevented with proper oral hygiene and a visit to the dentist. Remember parents, it’s never too early to teach and train your child to care for his teeth. If you have any questions about your child’s oral health, don’t hesitate to consult a dentist.
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