10 Tips to Help your Baby or Toddler have Healthy Teeth!

1.     Brush your baby’s teeth once they erupt if not sooner.

Use a cloth or a toothbrush to gently remove plaque and milk residue to reduce the risk of harmful bacteria colonizing those initial teeth and causing cavities.

2.     Never put your baby to bed with a bottle of milk or juice. Water only!

Baby bottle cavities are the number one reason in Alberta for children to require treatment under general anaesthesia. Milk or juice remaining in the mouth during sleep will cause cavities, and can lead to pain and the need for extensive work. So, if your baby needs a bottle before sleeping, clean their teeth afterwards or rinse their mouth with water.

If you give them a bottle in bed, it may only contain water – its just not worth the risk!

3.     Parents brush your child’s teeth at least twice daily! Until they are 6 years old!

Brush your child’s teeth after breakfast and before bed.

No sense letting food remain on the teeth for longer than needed – they will thank you later. This should never be optional. As the parent, you brush their teeth first or second, after or before they do it themselves, but you always brush their teeth. Crying and tempers cannot exempt them, as once they learn it is optional, they will win more than you, and thus they do not win in the long run.

4.     Toothpaste! Use a rice grain size to 3 years old and then the size of a pea forever after!

Use a fluoride toothpaste for best results, but the simple act of brushing the outside, inside, and biting surfaces of teeth will make a world of difference. Get rid of the plaque and the teeth will remain strong!

5.     Baby’s 1st Visit to the dentist at 1 year or 6 months after the first teeth erupt.

This 1st visit is for education, to help you prevent your child from having significant dental issues as they get older. If they are of normal risk, we can see them yearly and begin cleaning their teeth around the age 2-4 years depending on behaviour.

Rehearse the visit at home prior, and speak about the dentist in positive yet realistic terms. Never impose your own fear or nerves on your child.

Bring them with you for your own cleanings, or for a tour and playtime, to show them how the dentist can be a positive experience. You can also visit our website to see pictures of our staff and a virtual tour of the clinic.

6.     Every bite starts a 2 hour bacterial acid cycle that can cause cavities!

The bacteria that cause cavities digest foods with carbohydrates, and produce an acid that dissolves tooth structure. The acid production lasts for 2 hours after your child’s last bite. For your teeth’s sake its better to eat defined meals rather than snack continuously; It’s important to brush and floss after breakfast and before bed to interrupt the cycle.

7.     Kids want to be big… so let them watch you brush and floss!

Give them a piece of floss to play with while you floss too. They will learn through observation that brushing and flossing is important, and be less resistant to brushing and flossing themselves.

8.     Floss playfully, and use floss holders.

Start young while its easy to get in and floss gently. The floss holders can be invaluable in getting to those back teeth without having to stick your big fingers in their little mouth.

9.     Eat cheese at the end of meals, and/or rinse with water after.

Cheese is full of calcium and fats that can reduce the acidity of the mouth and counteract the acid cycle causing cavities. Rinsing with water can be equally effective!

10. Juice and pop only with meals. Never sipped between meals!

Each sip restarts the 2 hour acid cycle and leads to an environment of constant attack on your child’s teeth. Keep the pop/milk/juice for meals, and water for anytime in between.

Bonus Tip.  Take care of your own teeth, for your child’s sake!

You share oral bacteria with your child every time you kiss, or share a spoon or straw. If you have cavity causing bacteria in your own mouth, these can be transferred to your child’s mouth too. Get your own teeth cleaned, fix decay, brush and floss at home…and in addition to a better, healthier smile you will be helping your child maintain better oral health too!

If you have questions, feel free to call (780-986-6255), email (info@prairiedental.ca), or come in for a visit at our family dental clinic in Leduc - one block south of Main Street!

Thanks for reading!

Dr. Jack Gordon

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