Good oral care starts from the beginning of your child’s life. Even before his or her first teeth emerge, certain factors can affect their future appearance and health. For instance, tetracycline, a common antibiotic, can cause tooth discolouration. For this reason, it should not be used by nursing mothers, expectant mothers in the last half of pregnancy, or children under the age of eight years.
Since baby teeth usually emerge around six months of age, infants have special oral health needs that every new parent should know about. These include guarding against baby bottle decay.
Baby bottle decay is caused by frequent exposure, over time, to liquids containing sugars. These include milk, formula and fruit juices. The sugary liquids pool around the teeth for long periods of time as your baby sleeps, leading to cavities that first develop in the upper front teeth. For this reason, you should not let your baby fall asleep with a bottle of juice or milk in his mouth. Instead, at nap time, give your child a bottle filled with water or a pacifier recommended by your dentist.
If you breast-feed, avoid letting the baby nurse continuously. After each feeding, wipe your baby’s teeth and gums with a clean, damp washcloth or a gauze pad.