As a parent, you quickly learn that with every age and stage comes new concerns – and your child’s developing teeth are no exception. Your baby’s teeth may start coming in as early as 4 months, and your child will have a full set of 20 primary teeth by age 3.
It’s important to care for these little chompers as soon as they start showing through the gums, as tooth decay doesn’t wait. Here are 3 dental dangers to avoid and ways you can help your toddler develop a healthy smile.
Dental Danger #1: Bottles in Bed, Juice All Day
Early tooth decay can occur when a baby’s teeth are kept in contact with sugary substances; these include formula, fruit juices (even watered down), milk, or any other sugary substance, including breastmilk.
How to Avoid: Don’t put your baby to bed or nap with a bottle or sippy cup filled with a sugary drink. Instead, opt for a small amount of water or a pacifier. If you are nursing, be sure to remove your breast from baby’s mouth when they fall asleep so milk isn’t pooling in their mouth.
For toddlers, offer water instead of juice, leaving the sugary stuff for an every-once-in-a-while treat.
Dental Danger #2: Not Brushing Teeth or Using Fluoride Toothpaste
There are only 2 or 3 teeth in their little mouth, surely you don’t need to brush yet, right? Wrong. Tooth decay can happen as soon as the tiniest white tooth breaks the surface, so waiting to brush until they have a mouthful can mean painful decay that could be avoided.
How to Avoid: As soon as your baby has visible teeth, start with a “brushing” routine. Use a wet cloth to gently wipe your baby’s teeth after feeding. This works like a beginning stage toothbrush, removing bacteria and sugars that may be sitting on teeth. Slowly work toward using a toddler size toothbrush with a tiny amount of fluoride toothpaste – no more than a smear.
Dental Danger #3: Waiting to See a Dentist
Many people are under the perception that they don’t need to take their child to the dentist until they are 3 or even 5, especially if there are no visible issues. This is a very common misconception that can lead to preventable cavities, and even dentist anxiety.
How to Avoid: The ADA agrees, taking your child to the dentist sometime before their first birthday is ideal. An early start in the dental chair will allow your child to become familiar with the process while the dentist checks for any potential problems. Working together with Dr. Jackson, you can help your child develop a lifelong, healthy smile.
Have more questions about keeping your toddler’s teeth in top shape? Ready to get your little one in for their first visit? Schedule your appointment with us today!