The health of your baby’s teeth is a very important part of their well-being. Prevention of dental caries (cavities) is important at all stages of life. Dental caries are associated with many developmental and medical conditions ranging from speech problems to heart infections. You should start brushing the baby’s teeth with a small toothbrush moistened with water from the time the first tooth has erupted. The best time to brush is after the last bottle at night. Getting into the habit of brushing after every meal is also a good idea once three meals of solid foods a day are started.
If you are exclusively nursing, have well water, or don’t have fluoride in your water supply and your baby is 6 months or older, ask your pediatrician if fluoride vitamins are right for your baby. Fluoride toothpaste may not be appropriate in younger children, as they tend to swallow the toothpaste.
Limiting use of the bottle to feeding times only, not using the bottle as a pacifier, early introduction of “sippy” cups and getting rid of the bottle and pacifier by 18 months of age are good strategies for dental health. Also NEVER put the baby to bed with the bottle propped in his or her mouth or feed while asleep in bed, crib or bassinet. This practice holds high risk for severe dental decay.
Dental screening after the age of 3 years is another way you can ensure your baby’s dental health. Ask your dentist about dental screening. If your dentist doesn’t provide care for children ask the pediatrician about a referral to a pediatric dentist or a pediatric dental clinic.