Healthy smiles for babies and toddlers
(NC)—We don’t usually associate cavities or gum disease with infants but in fact, oral diseases begin very early. For example, early childhood caries (cavities) is a form of severe tooth decay in the primary (baby) teeth of children from birth to age 3, and it affects more than 10 per cent of preschool-aged children in Canada. Baby’s first teeth are crucial to healthy adult teeth, and early childhood cavities can lead to much bigger oral health issues later in life.
Reduce the risk and follow these simple care tips with your little one:
• Be a good role model. Keep your own teeth and gums healthy.
• Wipe baby’s mouth and gums with a clean, wet cloth or piece of gauze after feeding.
• Gently clean newly erupted teeth with a small, soft toothbrush.
• Avoid fruit punches and other sweetened drinks in baby bottles, especially before bed.
• Reduce the frequency of nighttime feedings.
• Use only pacifiers with an orthodontic design, and don’t dip it in sugary substances.
• Avoid transfer of your saliva onto items used by baby, including bottles, cups, pacifiers. Bacteria spreads.
• Rinse baby’s mouth with clear water immediately after any liquid medication is given.
• Check for early warning signs by lifting up baby’s top lip. White, chalky teeth or brown or black stained teeth indicate a problem. Contact your dental professional immediately.
• Gradually introduce fresh fruits and vegetables to the diet. These foods, which require chewing, stimulate saliva flow and help to neutralize acids.
• Begin regular dental visits by age one.
More tips and information about oral health care is available online at www.cdha.ca.