Health Tip: Prevent Tooth Decay in Babies

Parents and caregivers can pass cavity-causing bacteria to babies through saliva, by sharing foods and spoons.

Or tooth decay can develop when an infant's teeth and gums are exposed to any liquid or food other than water for long periods, including when ababy is repeatedly put to bed with a bottle of formula, milk or juice.

The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests how to help prevent tooth decay among infants:

  • Take good care of your ownoral health,even before baby is born. It is important to see a dentist for oral care while you are pregnant.
  • Whether you choose to breast-feed or bottle-feed,take good care of your baby's teeth from day one.
  • Never put your child to bed with a bottle or food.This not only exposes your child's teeth to sugars, but may also put your child at risk for an ear infection and choking.
  • Do not use a bottle or sippy cup as a pacifieror let your child drink from one for long periods. If your child wants to have the bottle or sippy cup between meals, fill it only with water.
  • Find out if your tap water is fluoridated. If not, your child's dentist may prescribe a fluoride supplement and or apply fluoride varnish to your child's teeth.
  • Teach your child todrink from a regular cupas soon as possible, preferably by 15 months of age.
  • Limit the amount ofsweet or sticky foodsyour child eats.
  • Avoid fruit juices, which may be loaded with sugar.
  • Make a dental appointment for your child before the age of 1.

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