The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends the first dental visit be at 12 months old!
The best way to prevent cavities is through proper brushing and flossing, eating the right foods, have regular check-ups and lead by example.
Brushing & Flossing
Brush and floss your baby’s teeth! It may seem difficult to get into your baby’s mouth so here are some tips on successful brushing and flossing.
- Have your baby lye down on your bed so you can see all areas of their mouth
- Have your baby lye down on your lap so you can see all areas of their mouth
- Use your free hand to move their lips
- Brush in a circular motion
- Brush front, back and chewing surface of all teeth
- Brush or wipe their tongue as well
- Use a dry brush (no toothpaste) until their molars come in (around 14-16 months)
- Use a tiny dot of toothpaste with fluoride once your baby has molars – if your baby can not spit, swipe off any excess but do not rinse or wash away with water.
- Keep your baby lying down for flossing
- Floss is a brush for between the teeth – make a U shape by pressing down on the side of one tooth and up along the next tooth.
- Try using a dental floss holder, it makes it a little easier to get into small spaces.
- If you just can’t get to the brushing and flossing then at least wipe their teeth, gums and tongue with a cloth or piece of gauze.
- Buy an electric toothbrush and a separate head for your baby – electric toothbrushes make it easier to clean those little teeth and your teeth too.
- Brush twice a day and floss at least once per day
Diet & Nutrition
Many of the carbohydrate snacks that little ones like to eat between meals could lead to cavities. You should avoid giving these foods to your baby between meals: candy, cookies, crackers, fruit juice, “kool-aid”, cereal, dried fruit, fruit leathers, “fruit roll-ups”, chips, trail mix, granola bars, soda, sweet breads, and foods with sugar.
Some good snacks are: fresh vegetables, fresh fruits, water, nuts, nut butter, sunflower seeds, yogurt (pay attention to the sugar content), cheese, fish or meat, rice cakes, and popcorn.
It is important that your entire family get regular check-ups (every 6 months). When you or the primary care taker has cavities, the cavity causing bacteria can be passed onto your baby. So make sure you are cleaning your mouth just as well as you are cleaning your baby’s mouth. After all, the greatest way our children learn is by watching us! Find a dentist that works well for your children, specifically a pediatric dentist.