Q: What are the important Do’s and Don’ts for an infant’s teeth?
A: Do rub baby’s gums with gauze or a damp face cloth even before the teeth start to erupt. This will get your baby to understand from an early age that like bathing and hair washing, mouth washing and cleaning is part of the routine! This will also help to ease the irritation of tooth eruption!
Don’t dip the dummy in syrup, honey or anything sweet. Sweetness in the mouth for prolonged periods is guaranteed to cause decay. Furthermore this will only encourage a ‘sweet tooth’ which is bad for future tooth decay and even obesity.
Don’t put extra sugar in the drinks that your baby takes in the bottle. Your child does not need extra sugar. There is enough energy for baby in the normal diet.
Don’t give your baby undiluted fruit juices in his/her bottle. Fruit juices contain acid and some of them – especially citrus fruit – are very high in acid. These acids demineralise the enamel of the teeth and lead to decay. Therefore, please avoid juices in a baby’s bottle or at least dilute the juice 50/50 with water.
Do avoid carbonated drinks until at least the age of three years. Never put these drinks into a baby’s bottle.
Don’t let your baby sleep with a bottle in the mouth. This may lead to ‘Bottle Baby Caries” If it is essential to put baby to bed with a bottle, make sure it contains only water. Please also see the question on ‘Bottle baby Caries’.
Do use an ‘orthodontic dummy’ to ensure that prolonged use of the dummy does not lead to an open space between the front teeth.
Don’t give an infant sweets or chocolates. At the very least not until the age of 18 months. Infants don’t need the extra sugar and don’t know that they are ‘missing’ something nice. All it does is to promote poor diet habits and tooth decay!
Please also see the questions on cleaning baby's teeth, and on 'Bottle Baby' caries. Visit the section on Tooth Erruption Charts.