Most people are aware that good oral hygiene is important. But did you know it's just as important in a newborn as it is in an adult? Babies are actually very susceptible to a condition called "bottle rot" or "bottle tooth." This is where teeth exposed to naturally sweet liquids like milk, formula, and juice will develop bacteria and eventually decay. A child's front, top teeth where the liquid makes the most contact are usually the first ones to be impacted.
Since those teeth are going to fall out anyway, why is it so important to take care of them? A baby uses their teeth to learn to chew and speak, among other things, and damaging or losing those teeth can lead to speech problems, poor eating habits, and damaged or crooked teeth as an adult.
Here's a look at what you can do to help make sure your child doesn't develop bottle rot.
- Always rinse and brush after each feeding: After your baby has breastfed or taken a bottle, be sure to wipe their mouth with a damp cloth or rinse it with water. Even if they don't have teeth yet, wipe down their gums. After each time your baby eats food, be sure to brush their teeth or gums just like you would with adult teeth. Immediately after your baby has eaten is the time they're most vulnerable to bottle rot, so you should never let your baby fall asleep with a bottle. Consistent brushing helps create good habits very early on in your child's life.
- Choose tooth friendly snacks: By giving your baby snacks that have high water content (like fruits and vegetables), you're helping wash away food that may become stuck.
- See a dentist as soon as the first tooth emerges: Your child's first dental visit is a pretty important one. Even if your child only has one or two teeth, this visit helps set them up for a healthy mouth in the future. A dentist can see early on if there are any problems, and can take steps to remedy those problems before they spread.
Of course, making sure that you see a pediatric dentist at a clinic like Apollo Dental Center may be one of the most important things on this list. This helps establish good habits, and a dentist will likely be able to offer even more information to keep your child's mouth healthy. Healthy baby teeth help pave the way to healthy adult teeth!