Four Tips For Protecting Your Toddler's Teeth

Your toddler will only have his or her baby teeth for a few years, but that doesn't mean it's not important to take care of them. The baby teeth need to be healthy in order for your child to eat and speak properly – and once your child's adult teeth start emerging, the baby teeth will help ensure they erupt in the proper place. Follow these tips to protect your little one's teeth from damage and decay.

Say "no" to sippy cups.

Sippy cups may be convenient when it comes to preventing spills, but they're not a good choice for your child's teeth. When your toddler slowly sips a drink from a sippy cup,  the teeth are continually bathed in sugar. This can lead to cavities and tooth decay. So, give your toddler drinks through a straw instead. The straw deposits the liquid further back in the mouth, where it doesn't come into direct contact with the teeth. If you have to give your child a sippy cup, fill it with water only.

Don't share food with your toddler.

Nibbling off a spoon and then giving your child the rest of the bite may not seem like a big deal, but when you're doing this, you're sharing saliva – and oral bacteria – with your child. The bacteria you introduce can lead to tooth decay in your child's teeth. Don't kiss your toddler on the mouth, share utensils, or share cups.

Give your child fluoridated water.

Fluoride is an important mineral that allows calcium to be properly laid down in your tooth enamel. Without enough fluoride, your child's teeth will be weak and more prone to cavities. Most sources of municipal tap water are fortified with fluoride, but not all brands of bottled water are. So, check with your local water department to make sure your tap water is fluoridated, and then give your child filtered tap water to drink rather than bottled water. Alternatively, you can look for a brand of bottled water that specifically states it contains fluoride.

See the pediatric dentist.

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentists recommends that children begin seeing the dentist for regular checkups as soon as their first tooth appears or no later than their first birthday. So, your toddler should begin attending regular checkups if he or she is not already. This way, any dental problems that do develop can be detected and treated early on before they cause significant pain or consequences for your child.

To learn more, contact a dentist like Dr. James A. Dempsey.