Mother Holding Baby --- Image by © Larry Williams/Corbis


Did you know that cavities are caused by germs that are passed from adult to child?

Babies are born without the bacteria that causes caries- the disease that leads to cavities. They get it from spit that is
passed from their caregiver’s mouth to their own. Caregivers pass on these germs by sharing saliva- by sharing spoons, by
testing foods before feeding it to babies, by cleaning off a pacifier in their mouth instead of with water, and through other
activities where saliva is shared.

These germs can start the process that causes cavities even before babies have teeth, so it’s important to avoid sharing
saliva with your baby right from the start. See below for more tips on how to keep your baby- and your baby’s teeth healthy
and happy.

For you:
• Eat healthy foods to reduce the cavity-causing germs in your mouth.
• Brush your teeth with a toothpaste that contains fluoride.
• Do not put anything in your baby’s mouth that has been in your mouth including spoons or a toothbrush, do not
blow on your baby’s food
• Do not use your spit to clean your baby’s pacifier – use water instead.
• If you have bleeding gums or cavities, you should visit your dentist as soon as possible.

For your baby:
• Before your baby’s first tooth becomes visible in the mouth, you should wipe the mouth
every day with a soft, moist washcloth. As soon as teeth become visible in the mouth,
brush the teeth with a small soft bristle toothbrush that contains a pea-sized smear
of fluoride-containing toothpaste.
• Encourage your baby to spit out the toothpaste.
• You should brush your child’s teeth at least twice each day – once in the
morning and once at night. Remember, the most important time to brush your
baby’s teeth is right before bedtime.
• Talk to your baby’s pediatrician or pediatric dentist about the right amount of
fluoride for your baby. Ask if your child should be brushing with toothpaste that
contains fluoride.
• Avoid giving your baby sticky foods and unhealthy snacks like candy, soda or juice
in between meals. Instead, give your baby healthy snacks like cheese, yogurt or fruit.
Only give your baby treats or juice at meal times.
• Establish bedtime routines that do not involve using the bottle filled with milk or
juice to soothe the baby to sleep. Also avoid having the baby sleep with a bottle
filled with milk or juice as the natural sugars in these liquids will get changed
to acid, which will rot or decay the teeth and lead to dental infection and
pain. Avoid having your baby drink from a sippy cup filled with juice
between meals.

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