General Health & Wellness • Jan 10, 2011

Something to Smile About

These images depict baby teeth with mild and moderate decay.  You definitely do not want your beautiful baby to have teeth looking like this, but how can you prevent it?

As soon as your baby’s first tooth appears, or “erupts,” it is at risk for decay.  Cavity-causing bacteria on the tooth are most often responsible for such decay.

How does a baby get these bacteria?  From the mouth of his mother or other care- givers.  These bacteria are passed through saliva.  When mom or caregiver puts the pacifier in her mouth or puts the baby’s  spoon in her mouth, she passes the bacteria in her saliva onto the baby.

Additionally, when the baby is put down to bed with a bottle, the formula or juice pools around the teeth.  Bacteria use sugar in formula or juice as food.  Acid is produced when the bacteria break down the sugar.  The acid attacks the teeth and causes tooth decay. A pacifier dipped in sugar or honey can also lead to tooth decay.


How do you prevent tooth decay?

START EARLY—Take care of the teeth and gums

1)     Even before tooth eruption, wipe the gums  gently after  each feeding.  This will keep the gums clean and protect the erupting teeth.

2)     Do not put the pacifier or anything which ends up in your baby’s mouth into your mouth. Practice good oral hygiene yourself, which reduces the bacteria in your mouth.

3)     When the teeth begin to erupt, clean them gently with a tooth brush and water.

4)     Do no put your baby to bed with a bottle in their mouth.

5)     Avoid putting juice , sugary drinks, or soda in their bottle.

6)     As soon as your chlild can spit and not swallow toothpaste, you can start using a very small amount (pea size) of fluoride tooth paste (after age 2).

7)     Wean them from a bottle into a cup when they are a year old.

8)     Brush your child’s teeth yourself until they are at least 6 years old.

9)     Encourage healthy eating habits and avoid sugary snacks.

10)  Make sure your child brushes his or her teeth at least twice a day.  I make my children brush their teeth after any sugary snack in addition to brushing their teeth in the morning and evening.

11)  Schedule the first dentist visit within 6 months after the eruption of the first tooth, no later than  after 1 year of age.

Early dental care is the key for lifelong healthy teeth and a beautiful smile.