Taking care of your baby’s mini mouth and milk teeth involves more than cleaning them the right way-choosing the right open cup can help ensure speech is not delayed and healthy teeth form by alleviating the damaging intense sucking action associated with sippy cups. Dental Mummy, Helen Clint, gives her top tips on choosing an open cup and establishing healthy dental habits for life.
Whether you have chosen to breastfeed or bottle feed, or a combination of both, it is important to take good care of your baby’s teeth when they start to come through, and start thinking about them even before they do. When you start weaning at six months, it becomes even more important to start good dental habits. Here are my top tips for how to look after your baby’s teeth.
Tip 1: Introduce an open cup when weaning
From six months when you start weaning, an open-topped or free-flow cup should be introduced (these are different to ‘sippy’ cups). It may take several attempts for your baby to master the art of drinking from a cup as it will feel totally different to a teat or a nipple. Be prepared for a bit of mess at the start but persevere. Drinking from a cup is less likely to cause liquid to collect around the teeth, which may lead to cavities. Crucially, an open cup cannot be taken to bed so there will be no drinking and soothing to sleep, which again can cause liquid to collect around the teeth. With the right sized cup for your little ones hands, like Babycup First Cups, drinking is easily achievable and starts your baby on their healthy sipping habit!
“No spill” cups are similar to bottles in terms of encouraging frequent use, rather than a drink being consumed in one go. Parents need to be aware that this can have a negative impact on their baby’s oral health. My advice is to try to avoid them in every day use-they do have a place for example on trips out. No spill cups are not the same as open cups which do not have any of these problems associated with use.
I’d also advise avoiding using a bottle or sippy cup as a pacifier as your little one becomes used to having them always in their mouth which can lead to bad habits. Similarly, always encourage your baby to drink at a table, or during a quick break in activities, rather them let them walk around carrying a drink for long periods. Another great advantage of using an open cup is that they help discourage cups being used as a pacifier, and instead, promote drinking in a healthy way. Babycup First Cups by British-brand, Babycup, are specifically designed to be baby-sized for little hands and baby-safe.
If your child must have a bottle or sippy cup for long periods or in between meals, fill it with water only.
Tip 2: Extra fluids for bottle fed babies
If you are bottle feeding you may need to give your baby extra fluids, as bottle fed babies can sometimes become constipated. Use cooled boiled water. Never add sugar to the water, as this can have the opposite effect and may lead your baby to have diarrhoea, as well as cause tooth decay. It is best to stick to milk or water in feeding bottles. As with sippy cups, try and prevent your baby falling asleep with a bottle as the liquid will gather around baby’s teeth which can lead to tooth decay.
Tip 3: Weaning and how to clean teeth
Whether you are following baby-led weaning or traditional weaning, or a mixture of both, it is important to establish a good cleaning routine for teeth straight away. Here’s a suggested routine for you to follow:
- Brush your child’s teeth 2 times per day for 2 minutes. Use a flat smear of fluoride toothpaste at least 1000ppmF (0-3 years) – It’s recommended to brush before bed and at another time in the day
- Leave at least thirty minutes after a meal or a drink before brushing – this allows the mouth to return to its more neutral pH
- From the age of one, consider introducing a ‘golden hour’ when all your child has in the last hour before bed is water. This means that the last thing touching a child’s teeth before bed is a fluoride toothpaste
- Only use an open cup like Babycups
- If you are still giving night feeds, wipe any excess or pooled milk from your baby’s mouth. Take a look at Brush Baby who make handy packs of dental wipes, as well as a teething version with added camomile, but a clean muslin will also suffice!
- Children should receive their first dental check by the age of one – the child should then be seen once a year or more, depending on the advice of your dentist
- Habits such as dummy use and digit sucking should be withdrawn by 12 months
Healthy dental habits should start early because tooth decay can begin to develop as soon as the first tooth comes through. I’m a dentist, but I am a mum too, and want to educate and empower families to make informed decisions based largely on evidence based research. To read more from me and more about Babycup First Cups, please visit www.babycup.co.uk