Kate's Fear of TMJ

Three Little Habits That Aren't So Good For Your Baby's Teeth -- And Three More You Should Adopt!

From the day your baby's first tooth emerges, it is important to do all that you can to keep your little one's chompers healthy. Unfortunately, many parents unknowingly develop some bad habits when it comes to caring for their babies' teeth. Here's a look at three little habit to avoid, along with a few good habits that will improve your baby's dental health.

Bad Habits:

1. Sharing food or utensils with your baby. Taking a bite of food and then offering some to your baby with the same spoon may seem natural. However, this behavior can pass oral bacteria from your mouth to your baby's mouth. The oral bacteria can proliferate, leading to tooth decay and gum disease.

2. Dipping the pacifier in milk or juice. If your child won't take the pacifier, it's best to just leave him or her without it. Dipping the pacifier in juice or milk means that sugary liquid is going to be resting against your baby's teeth for hours on end. Oral bacteria will feed on the sugar, releasing acids that contribute to tooth decay.

3. Putting your baby to bed with a bottle. If you put your baby to bed with a bottle, that bottle should contain only water. A bottle of milk or juice will put the teeth into contact with sugary liquid all night long. This can lead to a condition known as baby bottle tooth decay, in which the teeth experience extensive decay and often require numerous fillings or caps.

Good Habits:

1. Brushing your baby's teeth from the very beginning. As soon as that first tooth emerges, it's important to start brushing it to keep plaque from accumulating and leading to decay. You can use a toothbrush made specifically for infants. Often, these are made from a soft rubber material. Use just a small smear of children's toothpaste; this will be safer than adult toothpaste if your baby happens to swallow a little of it.

2. Giving your baby fluoridated water. Fluoride is a mineral that's essential for building healthy tooth enamel. Make sure any water you give to your baby contains fluoride. If you use bottled water, check the label to ensure you're buying a fluoridated brand. If you use tap water, check with your local water department to ensure it's fluoridated.

3. Visiting the dentist. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends taking your baby for his or her first dental visit (at clinics like Kids First Pediatric Dentistry) no later than the first birthday. This way, if your child does develop any dental health issues, they will be caught and treated early.