Pregnancy and Beyond

By now your baby may have one or two teeth. The center lower teeth are usually first to appear. Taking good care of "baby" teeth is important because these teeth save space in the jaw for the permanent teeth. Early loss of baby teeth can lead to crooked and crowded permanent teeth.

Giving your baby a bottle of formula, milk, fruit juice or sweet liquid as a pacifier at naptime or as a nighttime comforter can harm teeth. When the baby is awake, she can continually swallow the liquid. However, during sleep the fluid pools around the front teeth. This encourages the growth of decay-causing bacteria, which can damage teeth.

You can protect your baby's teeth by following these suggestions:

  • Begin cleaning your baby's teeth as soon as they come in. One easy way is at bath time take the warm wet washcloth over your first finger and gently clean all teeth and the gums. This will help prevent early decay and establish good oral hygiene habits.
  • Offer only clean pacifiers (not dipped in honey or other liquids). Honey contains bacteria and is harmful to babies under 1 year of age.
  • Don't let baby go to sleep with a bottle of formula, milk, fruit juice, or sweetened liquid. Instead, give baby a bottle of plain cool water if necessary.
  • Avoid sugar water, soft drinks, kool-aid, tea, and Jell-O water in baby's bottle.
  • Give baby daily fluoride drops as prescribed by your dentist or health care provider. If your water supply is fluoridated, no supplemental fluoride drops should be given.

With your help, your baby can have healthy teeth and a nice smile.