Taking Care of Baby Teeth

One might think that since I played games with names like Who Can Go the Longest Without Brushing Their Teeth as a child that I might not be a good source of information on this particular topic.

Public opinion has never stopped me before though.

Chad and I have made a dedicated effort to brush Christian’s teeth twice a day now for about six months. When people ask what we do when Christian resists – I answer that I do what Dr. Bob Sears recommended: Pin him down. He’ll stop fighting it after a night or two.

Granted, we use all the regular parental wiles first: we have a regular routine, we brush our teeth at the same time, we use a (fluoride-free) vanilla ice cream-flavored toothpaste, a tooth-brushing walrus finger puppet comes to sing, and we like to use a couple of teeth-brushing songs (Brush, brush, brush your teeth, Brush them everyday! First you brush the top, Then you brush the bottom, Keeps the cavities away – to the tune of Row Row Row Your Boat)

Christian rarely eats candy or drinks juice (we don’t buy it, but it still falls into our path). We do occasionally indulge in chocolate, and he gets a piece. He also likes raisins in his morning oatmeal, and sometimes I give him a fruit leather in the car for long drives.

Still, Christian got a cavity. We noticed a brown spot between two of his upper teeth and  a couple days later it was a full-fledged hole.

We visited an excellent pediatric dentist yesterday, Dr. Leslie Aspis. Her office is right across the way from Fashion Island. She is supportive of breastfeeding and attachment parenting. Christian’s teeth were cleaned and examined with his head resting in the doctor’s lap. Her gloves were bubble gum flavored.

It has been determined that she’ll probably be able to fill it without sedating him in six months or so. In the meantime, we’re keeping an eye on it, building comfort with the dentist’s office, and sticking to our teeth brushing routine with zeal. We’ll also start flossing every day.

What I know so far:

Brush baby teeth twice a day as soon as they appear.

Floss once a day.

You can start using fluoridated toothpaste when they know how to spit it out – around 2 years.

Despite the popular belief that breastmilk causes tooth decay, studies show that breastmilk can only cause decay if there is already tartar on the tooth. This means the dentist will recommend that you wipe your baby’s teeth with a damp washcloth after s/he is done nursing especially if s/he has fallen asleep.

If you would rather risk tooth decay than wake your baby on a nightly basis by sticking a wet cloth into your slumbering baby’s mouth, then make sure you are brushing those teeth with zeal. Pay close attention to the gum line.

Some dentists recommend using xylitol (via gum and toothpaste or sugar replacement) 5-6 a day to change the pH of the mouth, which studies have shown to reduce cavities. I get gum online at xclear.com.

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