A Healthy Start: 3 Things That Can Improve Your Child's Dental Health

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When it comes to taking care of you child's health, there are so many factors that it might be a little hard to keep track. But you need to keep track of your baby's dental health, because a good start when they're young gives them a better chance of having good dental hygiene as they grow up and become adults. So if you're wondering what three things you can do to improve your baby's dental health, then here's what you need to know.

1. Don't Rely on the Binky

Binky, paci, nubby, dummy, foolie—whatever you want to call that little device that silences your baby's cries, one thing's for sure: if you want to promote their dental health, you won't rely on it. Pacifiers are good in the short term or for when you need your baby to stop crying right now, but letting your kid suck on one too regularly for too long can be bad for their dental health.

Overuse of a pacifier can lead to jaw malformation, misalignment of teeth, and even the shifting of the roof of your child's mouth, among other problems. Pacifier use in excess can cause the same problems as thumb sucking for your child's forming teeth. Dentists suggest that you help your baby kick the habit before their second birthday in order to avoid dental problems down the road.

2. Use Water, Not Milk

Sending your baby off to bed in their crib with a nice, warm bottle of milk might be a great way to soothe their cries—but it's actually fairly damaging for their teeth. Milk, unlike water, has sugar in it, and letting sugar stay on your teeth for an extended period of time—especially overnight, when you don't produce as much saliva—is a recipe for cavities.

To be safe, send the little one to bed with water, which won't give them cavities and will help them stay hydrated. Remember, if the temperature soothes them, just heat the water up a tiny bit so they have something warm to hold on to and cuddle with.

3. Clean Their Gums

Yes, it's important to brush your baby's teeth with a soft toothbrush when they start to come in, but your dental care for you baby should start before that. Make sure every night to clean off your baby's gums (and their tongue) with a clean washcloth. This removes all traces of foods and sugars that your baby might have ingested during the day, keeping their gums healthy and free of bacteria.

Contact a pediatric dental specialist for more information.