Early Infant Oral Care

When Will My Baby Start Getting Teeth?

You can start caring for your baby’s oral health before the first teeth even erupt! By rubbing their gums with a warm wash cloth you will already be making a positive impact on their oral health. Then when their teeth start coming in, it will be more important than ever to continue this habit. Around 6 months of age your baby will probably start teething, but it is normal for teething to start anytime between three to twelve months of age. The lower teeth will probably erupt first followed by the four upper teeth. By the time your child is three they should have their full set of twenty primary teeth.

What is Baby Bottle Tooth Decay?

Baby bottle tooth decay is caused by the frequent and long term exposure of a child’s teeth to liquid containing sugar. Most often baby bottle decay affects the upper front teeth, but other teeth may be affected as well. Long term exposure to liquids such as milk, juices, formula, and other sweetened drinks can feed the bacteria in plaque. You can prevent baby bottle decay with several good practices. First, try to avoid sharing saliva with your baby through common use of feeding spoons or licking pacifiers. After each feeding, wipe your child’s gums with a clean, damp washcloth. When your child’s teeth come in, brush them gently with a child size toothbrush and about a rice sized amount of fluoride toothpaste, until about the age of 3. Also, avoid filling bottles with liquids such as sugar water, juice or soft drinks. It is also recommended that infant’s finish their bottles before naptime or bedtime and if your child uses a pacifier make sure to provide a clean one that isn’t dipped in sugar or honey. Healthy eating habits will also have a positive impact on your baby’s oral and overall health!

Are Sippy Cups Good for My Child?

It has been recommended that by the age of one, babies should be off the bottle. The longer it takes to wean your child off of the bottle, the harder it will be. In addition, bottle-feeding past this age can lead to tooth decay. (Children tend to take longer to finish drinks in a bottle, exposing their teeth to the sugar in formula and milk for longer periods). It’s a good idea to get your baby used to a Sippy Cup around 9 months (or earlier, if he or she is showing interest), so they have time to get used to it. Pick a plastic spill-proof cup with a spout, which looks most like a bottle. Finding the right cup for your child may require some trial and error. Some children go through several styles before finding one they love (some children like handles, while others can’t stand them, for example). At first, you should just offer water or diluted juice in the Sippy Cup during meals or snacks. Then as your child gets more comfortable, start filling the cup with breast milk or formula so they get used to the idea that all beverages can come from a cup. After your baby’s comfortable with the Sippy Cup (about a month or so), you can begin the weaning process. Start by phasing out one midday bottle feeding (since babies usually eat the least at this time) and replacing it with a meal of solid foods and/or a Sippy Cup of milk or formula. Wait a week (or two if your baby is struggling with the transition) before eliminating another bottle feeding. Continue phasing out one bottle feeding per week until your child is off the bottle completely. If you start the process at around 11 months your child should be done with bottles between 12 and 13 months. By one year, many toddlers are willing to give up their bottle and relish the opportunity to sit at the table like big boys and girls.