As a parent you play a large role in influencing your child’s dental health habits. It is very important to keep your child’s teeth and gums healthy and happy. Taking care of your child’s teeth will decrease their risk of gum disease, cavities, and other forms of tooth decay. These tips will help you to keep your child’s mouth healthy!

How to care for an infant’s teeth and gums:

Even though an infant’s teeth are not yet visible they are still there. Their teeth are just hiding in the gums. By taking the right steps to keep their mouth healthy you can prevent future oral health issues.

• After feeding wipe your child’s gums with a damp washcloth or gauze to remove bacteria that can leave behind plaque.
• Avoid giving bottles filled with sugary liquids such as soft drinks or juice. Try to only place formula, milk or breast milk in bottles.
• Avoid putting infants to bed with a bottle.
• If your child uses a pacifier, give them one that is clean—avoid dipping in honey or sugar
• Avoid putting the pacifier in your mouth before giving it to the child. Putting the pacifier in your mouth creates the risk of passing bacteria from your mouth to theirs.
• Inspire children to drink from a cup by their first birthday and avoid frequent or lengthy use of “sippy” cups

Once your child is able to eat solid food it is important to give them the right nutrients. Avoid frequently giving children sugary foods such as:

• Artificially sweetened fruit snacks
• Cookies
• Lollipops and other hard candies
• Dried fruits
• Cakes
• Pudding

Although these treats are yummy, they are hindering to the health of a child’s developing mouth. Try to replace artificially sweet foods with naturally yummy foods, such as:

• Bananas
• Strawberries
• Melons
• Tangerines
• Cucumbers
• Canned fruits in natural juices

Try to help your children get in the habit of consuming as few snacks as possible.

Between meals saliva will wash away food particles that bacteria would otherwise feast on. However, frequent snacking constantly feeds the bacteria, which can lead to plaque development and tooth decay. If your child does snack try to reduce it to one or two times a day. If possible, make sure your child brushes their teeth immediately after consuming the snack. If they cannot brush their teeth immediately have them drink a full cup of water to help wash away excess sugar or acid left behind from the food items.

If your child does consume foods high in sugar try to make sure it is after a main meal to reduce the time that bacteria will stay on the teeth.

Keep in mind that surgery treats are not the only villains to healthy teeth. Pizza, chips, and breads are also potentially damaging to teeth. If you are ever unsure about a food item check the nutritional label to help guide your decision.

A child’s meal and snacks should include a variety of foods ranging from: fruits and vegetables; grains, including breads and cereals; milk and dairy products, such as cheese and yogurt; and meat, nuts and seeds. Foods with greater nutritional value than others will promote your child’s growth and development. However, be aware that even some fresh fruits, if eaten in excess, may increase the risk of tooth decay. Keeping a balanced diet for your child is essential, so TOO much of anything is not healthy.

Remember to have your children brush their teeth with fluoride toothpaste after any meals or snacks.
Taking these steps will help to keep their tiny teeth in tip top shape!
(Please keep in mind that all the nutritional tips are beneficial for adult teeth as well)