Winter weather may have you drinking less water, but its crucial to good health to drink up.
Here in New York City, the amount of fluoride in our water is adjusted along with the seasons. Parents of my New Jersey patients are often shocked to learn that Jersey City (and much of the state of NJ) is a non-fluoridated community. That means your child may be missing out on the valuable benefits of tap water on both the baby teeth that you can see and the permanent teeth that are forming under the gums.
Water, water, water…….its the most important drink you give to your child. Keep in mind, most bottled water doesn’t contain fluoride, is expensive, and is bad for the environment. Don’t like the taste of tap water? Buy a Britta filter to keep tap water ice cold in the fridge without filtering out the fluoride! Infants under 12 months old may drink water from a baby bottle. Toddlers and children should be encouraged to use a straw cup or an uncovered cup after their 1st birthday. Only put water in a sippy cup, straw cup or baby bottle. Sweetened liquids (including milk) should only placed be in an uncovered cup after 1 year old. On the go? Have your child pick out a water bottle to take along or decorate a plain bottle with stickers.
Please let me know if you have questions on quality and quantity of water necessary for your child.
Communities save $38 in dental expenses for every $1 spent to fluoridate public drinking water!!
Baby Bottle Tooth Decay
Even though they are temporary, your child’s baby teeth are important, and are still susceptible to cavities. Tooth decay in infants and toddlers is often referred to as Baby Bottle Tooth Decay, or Early Childhood Caries. Children need strong, healthy teeth to chew their food, speak and have a good-looking smile. Their first teeth also help make sure their adult teeth come in correctly. It’s important to start infants off with good oral care to help protect their teeth for decades to come.
What causes Baby Bottle Tooth Decay?
Baby Bottle Tooth Decay most often occurs in the upper front teeth, but other teeth may also be affected.
There are many factors which can cause tooth decay. One common cause is the frequent, prolonged exposure of the baby’s teeth to drinks that contain sugar (yes, that means milk!). Tooth decay can occur when the baby is put to bed with a bottle, or when a bottle is used as a pacifier for a fussy baby.
Tooth decay is a disease that can begin with cavity-causing bacteria being passed from the mother (or primary caregiver) to the infant. These bacteria are passed through the saliva. When the mother puts the baby’s feeding spoon in her mouth, or cleans a pacifier in her mouth, the bacteria can be passed to the baby.
If your infant or toddler does not receive an adequate amount of fluoride, they may also have an increased risk for tooth decay. The good news is that decay is preventable.
Preventing Baby Bottle Tooth Decay
- Try not to share saliva with the baby through common use of feeding spoons or licking pacifiers. After each feeding, wipe your child’s gums with a clean, damp gauze pad or washcloth.
- When your child’s teeth come in, brush them gently with a child-size toothbrush and water or a toothbrush dipped in fluoride rinse.
- Brush the teeth with a smear amount of FLUORIDE toothpaste from the ages of 2 to 6.
- Supervise brushing until your child can be counted on to brush every surface – usually not before he or she is 7 or 8!
- Place only formula, milk or breastmilk in bottles, NEVER with liquids such as sugar water, juice, coconut water or soft drinks.
- Infants should finish their bedtime and naptime bottles before going to bed.
- If your child uses a pacifier, provide one that is clean—don’t dip it in sugar or honey.
- Encourage your child to drink from a cup by his/her first birthday.
- Encourage healthy eating habits.
When your child’s first tooth appears and no later than their 1st birthday, schedule the first well-check visit with a pediatric dentist. Treat the first dental visit as you would a well-baby checkup with the child’s physician. Remember: starting early is the key to a lifetime of good dental health.