New parents have a lot on their plates when heading home from the hospital for the first time. It can be overwhelming trying to remember everything that needs to be done. Do we have enough diapers? Are we feeding him or her enough? How much is enough sleep?
All of these issues are important but don’t forget about their oral health, too. Young infants can get baby bottle tooth decay if their teeth are exposed to drinks with high sugar for extended periods of time. To prevent your little one from experiencing this type of tooth decay, the health experts at Envolve, an integrated healthcare solutions company, are pleased to share five practices to protect your child.
1. Wipe Gums. After each feeding, grab a piece of gauze or a wet washcloth and clean your little one’s gums to remove bacteria buildup. Avoid being too rough and just dab the material gently around their gums.
2. Don’t Dip. Never coat children’s pacifiers with honey or sugar to get them to use it. This creates an oral environment that encourages infection and promotes tooth decay. Instead, always give freshly washed pacifiers to protect gums and teeth.
3. Begin Brushing. Once the first tooth emerges, start with a child-sized soft toothbrush and use a tiny amount of kid-friendly toothpaste. Don’t forget to use non-fluoride toothpaste until they’re able to spit on their own. It’s also recommended to schedule the first dentist appointment when the first tooth emerges but no later than the first birthday.4. Limit Snacking. When your child is able to handle solid food, get in the habit of choosing snacks that are sugar-free or unsweetened. Read ingredient labels to find out if the items contain sugar or starches, which turn into sugar. Sugary snacks include candy, mints, cookies, soda, and juices. Healthier, teeth-friendly snack choices are fruits and vegetables, low-fat cheese and water.
5. Schedule Check-ups. It’s hard to spot tooth decay in infants without a full dental examination since specific equipment and technology is needed. Small, white spots can appear on their gums above the upper front teeth but they may not be visible to you. If you suspect your child has these symptoms, contact a pediatric dentist for medical attention for early treatment and prevent further damage.