Our son has four teeth and boy is he excited about it! For us, it is just one more indication that our baby boy is growing up – FAST! His two lower teeth came in at around 7 months and his two uppers popped through at around 9 months. Being a dental family, we are eager to help him develop good oral habits even at this young age. We brush our teeth with him and in front of him. Modeling good brushing and flossing habits is one of the best things you can do for your children. We also help him brush his teeth, too. If he gets the toothbrush in there on his own, we are quick to give a standing ovation involving lots of clapping and “woo-woo’s.”
Since my wife has nursed exclusively, our son only has an occasional bottle when she is away. However, considering how and when you give babies a bottle is a very real concern and topic in relationship to the health of any baby’s teeth. Tooth decay in babies and young children is often nicknamed “Baby Bottle Tooth Decay.”
Decay can be caused from either of the following habits:
1. Dipping pacifiers in sugar or syrup.
2. Giving babies drinks in bottles with natural sugars (breast milk, formula, juice) at naptime or bedtime and/or letting them fall asleep with it.
Infant tooth decay is caused when these sweet liquids cling to the infant’s teeth for long periods of time. It usually occurs in front teeth, but other teeth can be affected too. Sadly, some parents feel it isn’t as much of a concern because “baby teeth are only temporary.” This is not true! Children need their baby teeth to serve as placeholders for their adult teeth. In the meantime, they need them for many other reasons including chewing and speaking. Without a healthy set of baby teeth, the likelihood of speech problems, crooked teeth, and unhealthy adult teeth increases.
Already have a kiddo who falls asleep with his or her bottle in their mouth? Weaning from this habit can be difficult. As any parent with a young child knows, sleep can be a tricky thing to tackle. It really is up to you how you approach it. Some parents may choose to go “cold-turkey.” Others might slowly dilute the breast milk, formula, or juice with water over several weeks until water is all that is being put in the bottle.
We recommend getting your child in to see the dentist for the first time at one year of age, unless a problem arises that makes you feel an earlier visit is necessary. In the meantime, brush those teeth for and with your little ones. Healthy mouths means healthy kids!