Dental health plays an important role in our overall health. You can help your baby develop healthy dental habits early on.
Encourage Healthy Eating Habits
Healthy eating habits can last a lifetime and encouraging your baby to develop a taste for healthy food choices can prevent tooth decay. Sugar can be very addictive, especially if your baby learns to love it at a young age. Limit the amount of sugary sweets that your baby has and encourage healthier and more nutritious alternatives such as, fruit (dried, fresh), ice-cream, cereal, etc.
Sticky foods such as raisins may be healthy foods but they can get stuck in your baby’s teeth and create a breeding ground for tooth decay. Avoid sticky foods shortly before bedtime and be sure and clean your baby’s teeth well.
Prevent “Baby Bottle Tooth Decay”
Babies often develop “baby bottle tooth decay” if they are frequently put to sleep with a bottle. Milk contains sugars that cause tooth decay. If your baby must have a bottle to fall asleep, give him a bottle of water. Gradually phase out the bottle completely and find other ways to comfort your baby as he falls asleep. A bottle can interfere with your baby’s jaw development if he stays attached to it for too long. By one year of age, your baby should be comfortable with a sippy cup and use it the majority of the time.
Clean Your Baby’s Gums
You can help your baby to have healthy gums even before his first tooth comes in. Use a soft, wet washcloth to gently wipe your baby’s gums after meals and before bedtime. There is no need for any toothpaste until your baby is older. Many stores sell infant “toothbrushes” that have textured ends to help clean your baby’s gums and get him used to having a toothbrush in his mouth. Start healthy habits early and you will help your baby develop healthy dental habits for life.