It’s crucial that you have the right information early on when it comes to infant oral care. Even though your child’s first teeth are temporary, they are still susceptible to decay and infection, and mothers can actually transfer damaging bacteria to their infants, according to the American Dental Association’s (ADA) Mouth Healthy site. Knowing the correct approach to oral care for each stage of your baby’s development will ensure you’re providing the best care possible.
Good oral care for your baby starts with your own dental health. Disease-causing bacteria called “streptococcus mutans” can transfer from mothers to infants easily, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, and can result in infant dental decay. Poor dietary habits can increase bacteria production and the risk of transfer to your infant, so keep an eye on your diet and practice good oral hygiene yourself.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that early childhood caries, or dental decay that leads to cavities, is a widespread infectious disease for infants in the U.S. It’s also one of the most avoidable, and taking the right steps at every stage can prevent it and improve oral health.
Follow these four steps to ensure proper oral care for your child:
Avoid overexposure to fluoride, whether in toothpaste or through bottled water. You should consult with your dentist or pediatrician for information about fluoride usage with your infant. Don’t let your baby fall asleep nursing or with a bottle in his mouth; this will minimize bacteria development. And don’t share your utensils, drinking straws or cups. Remember your bacteria is transferable and can cause infections.
Putting all these practices into place, from when to start care to what specific steps to take or to avoid, will ensure your newborn has the safest and most effective oral care. That’s great peace of mind for any parent.