Preventing dental injuries and maintaining good oral health are two important aspects of baby safety. Although it may seem overwhelming, the following tips can help parents navigate oral safety and health dangers, and put babies on the path to bright and healthy smiles.
Preventing Oral Injuries
Oral injuries are common among babies and toddlers, but they can be prevented with some simple guidelines.
- Follow baby product manufacturer recommendations for age and use to prevent unnecessary injuries. Keep an eye out for any baby product recalls.
- Child proof by looking around your home from the vantage point of a baby/toddler. Remove things that could be choking or trip and fall hazards.
- Prevent falls and oral injuries by always strapping your baby into car seats, strollers, swings and other seated toys. And even when strapped in, never leave a baby unattended in a carrier placed on a table or any elevated surface.
- Make sure that when your baby begins walking, they do not walk while drinking from a sippy cup or bottle.
If your toddler does knock out a baby tooth, schedule an appointment with your pediatric dentist as soon as possible. A pediatric dentist can determine if any intervention is necessary to keep proper spacing if a baby tooth is lost prematurely.
Getting a Good Start
Most babies’ teeth begin coming through their gums between four to six months of age. Tooth decay in babies and young children is common, but very preventable.
- Put only water, formula, breast milk or milk in bottles.
- Stay away from sugary drinks, such as juice, sweetened water or soda.
- Never put babies to bed with a bottle, even if it’s just filled with breast milk or formula.
- Don’t share straws or utensils with babies, as this can transfer cavity-causing bacteria from parent to child.
Establishing Healthy Habits
It’s never too early to establish good oral health habits, even before your baby’s first tooth emerges.
- Wipe your baby’s mouth after each feeding with a clean, damp wash cloth or gauze pad.
- When your baby’s teeth begin to come in, brush their teeth twice a day with a child-sized toothbrush and a very small amount of fluoride toothpaste.
- Your baby’s first dental visit should be within six months of the eruption of their first tooth or by their first birthday, as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.