1. This document is FCS8730-Eng, one of a series of the Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. Publication date: April 2002. Reviewed: Jennifer Hillan, MSH, RD, LD/N, University of Florida. Please visit the EDIS Web site at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function without regard to race, color, sex, age, handicap, or national origin. For information on obtaining other extension publications, contact your county Cooperative Extension Service office. Florida Cooperative Extension Service / Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences / University of Florida / Christine Taylor Waddill, Dean 2. Isabel Valentn-Oquendo, MS, RD, LD/N, Curriculum Coordinator, Family Nutrition Program, Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, 32611. FCS8730-EngOral Health for Infants and Young Children1 Isabel Valentn-Oquendo 2 Good dental hygiene and nutrition can help build and maintain strong, healthy teeth. These good habits need to start early, from infancy. Lets see how we can do it! Nutrition and dental hygiene Breast milk and infant formula give babies all the nutrients they need for dental health. After feeding, clean your babys mouth, even if teeth are not present yet. Gently clean babys gums with a clean, wet gauze. Other recommendations for good dental health: Never dip pacifiers in sugar, honey, or juice. Start your baby with a cup at 6 months of age. Offer juices in a cup, not a bottle. Offer only water in the bottle at naps or bedtime. Wean your baby from the bottle shortly after his first birthday. Keeping him on the bottle too long can cause baby bottle tooth decay, which can affect eating and speaking. First visit to the dentist Children should have their first visit to the dentist at one year of age. This gives your child chance to get comfortable with the dental care staff, and he will learn about brushing and flossing. A word about fluoride Fluoride protects tooth enamel, but too much fluoride is not good. We get fluoride from fluoride supplements, fluoridated city water, and toothpaste. Fluoride supplements should be used only under doctors supervision. Children swallowing toothpaste can also get too much fluoride. Brush young childrens teeth with a wet toothbrush. Start using
Oral Health for Infants and Young Children Page 2 April 2002 toothpaste only when the child is able to spit it out and then use only a pea-sized amount. Healthy eating habits Children tend to have problems with cavities. Eating starchy foods or sweets between meals, or sipping sweet beverages throughout the day increases the risk for caries. Encourage your children to practice eating habits that promote oral health. Eat starchy foods or sweets with meals. Eat fresh fruits and vegetables, yogurt, cheese, milk, and popcorn for snacks. Brush teeth after eating starchy foods for snacks.Other sources of sugarSyrup-type medications for children usually have sucrose. The sugar sucrose is used to mask the taste of medicine. Long-term use of these medications can lead to tooth decay. Encourage child to rinse his mouth or brush his teeth after taking any sucrosebased syrup medication. For reliable information on this topic, contact the Family and Consumer Sciences (FCS) agent at your County Extension office, a dental health professional or a registered dietitian (RD) in your community.