My little son has had issues with cavities from the time he was 1 1/2 years old.
He is now 6 years old and lost his first baby tooth, and we are lucky that we found a wonderful pediatric dentist who was able to save his teeth and has been with us every step of the way.
But I wish I would’ve known the following four things to avoid all of the dentist visits we’ve had to face over the years.
Here are the four things I wish I had known about taking care of baby teeth:
1. We pass tooth decay-causing bacteria to our kids
Babies are born without decay-causing bacteria in their mouth. Unfortunately, we pass them to our kids by sharing utensils with them, even by kissing them. Why does no one tell you that when you are a new mom, shouldn’t that be Motherhood 101?
If I had known this, I would have made a point to never share a spoon with my son.
2. Wipe baby teeth after feedings once they break through the gums
I took my son to his first dentist appointment when he was 1 year old, as recommended. That dentist did not give me enough information about how diligent you have to be about wiping baby teeth after each feeding.
The combination of breast milk and solid food was a time bomb on his soft teeth he inherited from my husband and me. When my son was little and not ready for a toothbrush yet, I liked using Tooth Tissues dental wipes I cut into smaller pieces.
3. Breast milk does not cause cavities
Our pediatric dentist wanted me to wipe my son’s tooth every night once he stopped nursing and fell asleep. Well, that’s just not practical — I’m not going to wake up a baby that finally fell asleep!
I went home torn about what to do — I wasn’t willing to give up nursing my son. He was nowhere near ready to be weaned, and I wanted him to keep having all the health benefits he received from being breastfed. So I researched if breastfeeding really caused my son’s cavities — and found no evidence for that.
If breast milk caused cavities, you’d find cavities in all mammals, but that is not the case. Wild animals don’t have problems with cavities.
My son’s cavities were caused by me not being more diligent about wiping my son’s baby teeth when he ate solid food. Once I wiped and brushed his teeth religiously, he did not have another cavity for years, even though he nursed to sleep every night for several more years. Now, bottle rot is a different story — don’t let a child fall asleep with a bottle of formula or juice.
4. Buy toothpaste with Xylitol, and avoid toothpaste with dyes and SLS (detergent)
Because my son is so prone to cavities, I researched sugar alternatives and the winner was Xylitol — this alternative to sugar actually has health benefits, that’s why you now find it in tooth paste, gum, and candy, etc.
Xylitol helps to restore a proper alkaline balance in the mouth and reverses destructive effects of sugar. It also has the ability to enhance the mineralization of the enamel and can stabilize cavities.
I now only buy natural toothpaste with Xylitol, and I also replace lollipops we come across at the bank or other places with lollipops with Xylitol.
SLS is a detergent that makes toothpaste bubble — which is completely unnecessary and doesn’t belong into our kid’s bodies. The same goes for food dyes. Tooth paste does not have to be blue or pink — white is just fine and much healthier.
I hope this information will help you make educated decision about the health of your children’s teeth. I hope you can learn from my experience and will be able to avoid traumatic visits to the dentist with a little child.
If you do need a pediatric dentist for dental work that needs to get done, choose the one who will work with you and your child, who will let you be there during the procedure, and who is kind to your child and takes the time to answer questions.