Dear Dr. Ellie,
My daughter is 9 months old and has a couple of teeth already. How can I care for my baby’s teeth? I want to make sure she has the best chance for a healthy smile –I have suffered with dental problem since I was a child.
Carole W., Washington, DC
You are a good mother to be concerned about your daughters dental health. Many parents think that because the baby teeth fall out, they aren’t important–but this is far from true!
It is important to clean your baby’s new teeth because they are soft and easily damaged by acids. For your baby, toothpaste is not necessary, in fact, children’s toothpaste sometimes contain sugars or sorbitol, which can damage your child’s teeth. You can try using a toothbrush dipped in a solution of warm water and Xylitol.
For an older baby, especially if there are signs of damage (white or brown spots), use a soft toothbrush or cloth moistened with a drop of bubble gum flavor fluoride rinse. The fluoride will help strengthen tooth enamel.
Some people argue that baby bottles can cause tooth decay. You should know that the bottles are not the cause of decay, but rather what is in the bottle. Liquids such as fruit punch, Kool-Aid, or fruit juices are especially harmful–even when diluted.
Cows milk is safe for your baby’s teeth, but many types of formula will cause decay. A solution of Xylitol and water is a suggested alternative to juice, or use Xylitol to sweeten cows milk.
Thanks for your question, and good luck with your baby!