Caring for your baby’s mouth and teeth
Dental caries or cavity formation is an infectious disease
Streptococcus mutans bacteria, which cause dental caries, are infectious and can be trans-mitted from adult to child through saliva. A toothless baby does not carry such bacteria, but as soon as the baby gets his/her primary teeth, a bacterial infection can easily occur. The adult caretakers should be very careful to avoid direct saliva contact such as eating with the same spoon or licking the baby’s pacifier/dummy. According to latest research, the parents’ use of xylitol reduces their children’s risk of caries. This infection risk decreases with age.
Regular meal times
Eating and drinking activates the bacteria in the mouth, producing acids. This causes the dental enamel to erode. Teeth can take these ‘acid attacks’ 5–6 times daily. Night-feeding is harmful for teeth. When meals and snack times are regular, the child does not need extra snacks. Additional snacks are fattening, reduce a healthy appetite and may cause dental caries. Teeth need a pause in between meals to allow saliva to rinse them and repair acid damage. Giving the child sugar, juices and anything sweet should be avoided as long as possible. Xylitol helps prevent early caries bacterium infection and cavity formation. Water is the best thirst-quencher.
Cleaning your baby’s teeth
Brushing a baby’s teeth should begin right after the first teeth have come in. A good tooth-brush is small and soft. Teeth are cleaned using small back and forth movements. Pay special attention to the bite surfaces and gumlines. The responsibility for brushing the child’s teeth always lies with the parents.
Fluoride strengthens teeth
Fluoride products may be introduced when the first tooth has come in and the child weighs at least 8 kilograms. The recommendation for children below 3 years of age is one fluoride dose a day: a fluoride pill or a drop of toothpaste.
Fluoride is not added to tap water in Espoo (fluoride content is under 0,1 mg/l).
Well water in Espoo contains varying amounts of fluoride. Fluoride content can be examined with a dental clinic’s referral.
Using a pacifier/dummy
If the baby needs a pacifier, choose a small and flat one. It is better to suckle on a pacifier than the thumb. Long and continuous use of a pacifier may cause malocclusions and increase cavity formation. The pacifier should be given up, if possible, around the age of one year. By that time, the child’s suckling need has decreased with his/her development.
Book an appointment at a clinic between 10 and 15 (in urgent cases from 7.45 onwards), phone 09 816 30300