Parents who have active tooth decay pass on infected saliva and bacteria to their baby. This is why it’s so important for parents to be careful about their own oral hygiene.
Kissing baby on the mouth, blowing on food to cool it, putting the child’s bottle, dummy or spoon in the parent’s mouth are all perfect ways of transmitting bacteria.
Baby teeth are particularly prone to decay. Bacteria combined with regular “topping up” of acid levels in their mouth from milk means that early childhood caries are common.
When to Start Cleaning Your Baby’s Teeth
Even if your baby has one lonely tooth it still needs to be cleaned every day. Use a soft wash cloth to gently remove any build up of plaque.
It’s not necessary to start using toothpaste until children are closer to two years of age. Even then a pea sized amount of fluoride toothpaste smeared along the brush is plenty.
Don’t let your baby fall asleep sucking on a bottle of milk or juice. Bottle caries can be completely prevented by stopping bottles as soon as possible. Introduce your toddler to a cup when they are one.
Offer your child a healthy diet, rich in dairy foods and calcium. This will help to boost the calcium produced in their saliva which then acts as a protective “shield”.
Take your child to the dentist on or around their first birthday. Regular checkups at six monthly intervals are important.
Discourage any snacking for one hour before bedtime. Water to drink is fine but anything else increases the risk of decay.
Start flossing your baby’s teeth when they are next to each other.
Fluoride helps to prevent tooth decay. Drinking fluoridated water and using fluoride toothpaste helps to harden tooth enamel and make it more resistant to caries.
In older children and adults sugarless gum helps to control tooth decay in
Parents need to supervise their child’s tooth brushing. Children can’t do a thorough job until they’re around eight years old.