By Vishant Nath DMD
It’s never too early to begin considering your child’s oral health care. From birth, your baby’s oral health is being determined by a variety of factors. There are some easy guidelines to follow to put your baby on a pathway to good oral health.
As soon as your baby’s new teeth erupt from their gums, they are susceptible to cavities. Cavities are caused by an overabundance of the bacteria mutans streptococci (MS) in the mouth. Even before your baby has teeth, these bacteria can be present in their mouth. As a parent, there are two main ways to prevent the cavities from forming.
So the first goal is to prevent the bacteria from entering your baby’s mouth. It may seem like an impossible goal and in some ways it is. It’s inevitable that over time, the bacteria will make it into your baby’s mouth. The goal is to put off this “early colonization” of MS for as long as possible. There are some obvious ways in which the bacteria enter the mouth. Especially as babies grow, their natural curiosities encourage them to seek out situations where they will encounter these bacteria. Something as simple as a dropped pacifier, or other teething toy can present this situation. Forget the “five-second rule”. It’s best to take the necessary measure to clean these items before giving them back to your child. Keeping an extra clean pacifier handy and cleaning their teething toys on a regular basis are simple steps can help your baby’s oral health care.
There is another, less obvious way that the bacteria make their way into your baby’s mouth. If you share a spoon or drink cup with your baby, you are sharing the MS bacteria that are present in your mouth with them. Try to avoid this! You may think that your mouth is perfectly clean, but it isn’t as clean as your baby’s mouth and by sharing your spoon with them, you are sharing these bacteria with them.
The second goal is to take great care of your baby’s mouth. Even before they have teeth, you can help create a clean environment by gently wiping the gums with a clean, wet cloth before bedtime. The more you do it, the more your baby will get used to it. Once the primary teeth erupt, wipe them as well. There are a variety of soft, rubbery-bristled baby tooth brushes available that you can begin using to gently brush the baby teeth. Establishing these habits early will put your child on a pathway of a lifetime of great oral health!