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Baby Tooth Care: 3 Must Dos

For baby tooth care, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends a dental check up for babies soon after the first tooth comes in and no later than age one.

SERIOUSLY?

baby tooth care

The thought of trying to coax a 1 year old into letting me count his tiny little teeth makes me break into a sweat. 

Obviously it is difficult for the dentist to accomplish anything on a 6-12 month old baby.  Even a very quick look at a baby's teeth at this age is difficult.   

Age 3 is usually the time when children may cooperate enough to have a more complete dental exam and cleaning.  For some the age of cooperation is much later:(   

They have to be won over slowly and gently.  Forcing babies and toddlers seems counter productive unless there are obvious problems that need treatment. 

So why the recommendation?

It is important to be sure parents know exactly what they should do to prevent cavities in their young children.  The purpose of this early visit is to alert parents to what causes tooth decay in baby teeth.

Is this early check up necessary?  

Maybe not for everyone.  

But for 3 year olds with a mouthful of cavities,  it would have been nice of the parents had been given early instructions on how to care for their baby's teeth.  Cavities in baby teeth don't happen randomly, they are preventable.

Is it reasonable to ignore the recommendation?

Yes.

But, if you opt out of early dental check ups for your child be sure you are taking good care of their baby teeth from the day they come in.  

These 3 action steps will keep your baby cavity free.

3 must dos to keep your baby cavity free

1. Manage their diet

A baby or toddler's diet is the most important factor for good dental health.  Babies who drink from their bottles or even a sippy cup constantly throughout the day are much more likely to have cavities in their baby teeth.  

If a bottle is needed for soothing your baby try switching to a pacifier.     Juice is not necessary for good nutrition and can be just as bad for baby teeth as soda.  Juice has a lot of sugar and can be acidic. 

2. Establish a toothbrushing routine 

It is not easy to brush a baby's teeth and you don't have to "brush" them at first.  But it is good to get them used to having their teeth and gums touched and massaged.  Using a corner of a clean washcloth  gently rub their teeth and gums.  Once your baby has a few teeth on the top and bottom you can introduce a very small and very soft toothbrush.  Just use water at first.  You can eventually add fluoride free training toothpaste.

3. Insist on good bedtime habits

It's ideal if you can brush their teeth twice a day.  But life is not always ideal!   If you only get it done once, choose before they go to bed and don't let them eat or drink anything except water after brushing.   Never let your child go to bed with a bottle of milk or juice.  Use a pacifier.

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