Even though baby teeth don't last a lifetime, it is still important to protect them from decay. Your child will use their baby teeth for the first few years of their lives until their adult teeth come through. Here are some tips to protect your infant from tooth decay.
1. Keep Your Baby's Mouth Clean
It's never too early to establish a good dental hygiene routine for your child. Even before the first teeth appear, you can use a damp cloth to gently clean your baby's gums. This activity helps your baby get used to having their mouths and gums touched and can be a bonding experience. When the first tooth appears, which usually happens at around six months after birth, use a soft baby toothbrush and a tiny smear of fluoride toothpaste to keep it clean.
2. Avoid Baby Bottle Caries
One major cause of tooth decay in babies and toddlers is parents' habit of putting them to bed with a bottle. Sucking on milk or juice throughout the night exposes kids' teeth to a lot of sugar, which feeds the oral bacteria that cause dental caries. Protect your infant by feeding them only when they are hungry and avoiding using a bottle as a pacifier.
3. Don't Pass on Bacteria
The bacteria that live in adults' mouths can put children at risk of tooth decay. If you share eating utensils with your baby, or put their pacifier in your mouth to "clean" it, you could pass on harmful bacteria. Protect your kid by ensuring they have their own clean feeding spoons. Paying attention to your own oral hygiene can also help, as it reduces the number of harmful bacteria present in your mouth.
4. Schedule a Dental Appointment
When your child's teeth start to come through, it is a good idea to take them to a dentist to ensure that everything is developing normally. Dentists recommend that all children have an oral health check by their second birthday. All children aged 12 and under are eligible to receive public dental services in Australia, which means the care they receive is free for parents who hold a valid healthcare card and available for a small fee for those who do not. The earlier you can introduce your child to the dentist, the sooner they will become familiar with dental visits as a normal part of life, which may help to prevent them developing dental phobias in future.