Preventing Dental Decay
- Begin mouth care early. Starting at birth, wipe your baby’s mouth and/or teeth twice a day with a clean washcloth, finger brush or a soft baby toothbrush.
- Lift your baby’s top lip to look for decay once a month. Look for white or brown areas. If you see any, take your child to the dentist right away. Public Health also has free dental programs for children and teens 17 under. Call to see if your family can use these services.
- Do not share utensils and if your baby uses a soother, do not lick it to clean it, as you can pass on germs from your mouth that can cause tooth decay.
- Don’t let your baby fall asleep with a bottle. Make sure that he or she swallows the liquid. If your baby sleeps with a bottle, use only water. If you have been putting your baby to bed with a bottle, it might be hard to change this habit. Use toys, hugs, stories or rock your baby for comfort instead of using a bottle to pacify. You can also try watering down your child's bottle over a week or two, until there is only plain water left.
- Do not give babies and children any drinks like pop, fruit drinks, sport drinks, energy drinks, and iced teas as these have lots of sugar.
- Avoid dipping soothers in honey or any sweetened liquid.
- Children should be taught to drink from a cup as they approach their first birthday.
- Schedule your child’s first dental visit by their first birthday.
If you have any questions about dental health, Public Health can help. Our dental team is available by phone Monday to Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Call 519-376-9420 or 1-800-263-3456 (Press 8).
Early Childhood Tooth Decay
Dental Checklist for Children 18-36 Months
Early childhood tooth decay is severe dental cavities found in teeth of infants or young children. Babies may get early childhood tooth decay from going to bed with a bottle of milk or juice. It can also happen if young children are offered sugary drinks in a bottle or cup. The sugars combine with plaque (a bacterial film in the mouth) to form an acid. These “acids” attack the teeth after each feeding. This means there is a greater chance for decay.
Hidden sugars can be found in liquids such as formula, sweetened and natural fruit juices, milk or any other sugary beverages like pop, fruit drinks, and sport drinks.