Did You Know Babies Can Get Cavities?
Tips to keep their tiny chompers squeaky clean and cavity free.
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Nobody wants to hear they have cavities, and no parent wants to be told their infant has them, either. Yes, even baby teeth can get cavities. But you may be wondering: How can she already have tooth decay when her teeth have barely grown in?
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends children visit the dentist by the time they’re 12 months, but there’s a lot you can do before that first visit.
• Be sure to brush at least twice per day with an appropriately-sized toothbrush and a pea-sized amount of toothpaste when baby’s teeth start coming in. If your baby doesn’t have teeth yet, clean her gums with a soft infant toothbrush or a wet cloth.
• Restrict nighttime bottles to water. Liquids with sugar (milk, formula or fruit juice) can fuel decay-causing bacteria.
• Don’t dip baby’s pacifier into anything sugary.
• Make sure your lil’ one is getting enough fluoride, which helps reduce tooth decay. Public water (plus some bottled) and children’s toothpastes typically have fluoride, and your dentist can determine if your baby needs additional supplements.
• Don’t forget to floss those hard-to-reach grooves.
• Limit her intake of sugar and starches to help prevent decay.
• It may seem obvious, but don’t spread germs to your baby. Bacteria from your mouth transferred from shared utensils and food can cause caries, the disease that leads to cavities. Don’t use your saliva to clean baby’s pacifier.
Despite your best efforts, if your toddler seems to be in pain from toothaches, suffers from sensitivity or has visible holes and brown, black or white spots on her teeth, you could be dealing with cavities, says the Mayo Clinic. If you suspect she has one, take her to the dentist ASAP.
There’s a chance she may need a sealant, filling, crown or cap depending on her age and the severity. General anesthesia and sedation, which are usually avoided if possible, also pose risks, so make sure your dentist fully explains all options and procedures before work begins.
For more information on preventing tooth decay or to find a pediatric dentist near you, visit aapd.org.