My girlfriend sent me a couple websites on taking care of oral health. She's working in the field and wants to make sure Karrots is taken well care of. One site was for First5 Oral Health. In reading the "Why" page I found professionals can:
* Provide an oral health assessment for babies and young children.
* Provide anticipatory guidance for parents on issues such as weaning, frequency of snacking, self-assessment at home and use of fluoride toothpaste for daily brushing.
* Evaluate the need for systemic and topical fluoride supplementation and anti-bacterials like xylitol and chlorhexidine.
* Provide a fluoride varnish treatment when appropriate, as fluoride can prevent and arrest early tooth decay.
In their downloadable presentation for parents it states "As soon as the first tooth appears, start brushing your baby's teeth in the morning and before bedtimes. Use fluoride toothpaste." They also recommend "plastic coatings painted on the pits or grooves of back teeth."
The other site she sent me, for the ADA (American Dental Association), it has a pdf on baby teeth that says "Begin brushing your child's teeth with a little water as soon as the first tooth appears. If you are considering using toothpaste before the child is 2 years of age, ask your dentist or physician first."
Now, I haven't done a ton of research on this subject, but the word "fluoride" stood out to me as I've heard through blogs that it's something to avoid as it is a chemical. So, I did a Google search. The first site brought up was the Fluoride Action Network, which had a video on water fluoridation and a list of 50 reasons to oppose fluoride (in your water). One of the diseases it can cause is Skeletal Fluorosis, which is a form of arthritis.
There are plenty of sources that say otherwise. Parents (real "medical") actually states, "Regulate baby's fluoride intake. Even though your baby isn't using a fluoride toothpaste, he should get enough fluoride -- important for preventing tooth decay -- from drinking tap water."
This site states, "Breast feeding is good for your baby's teeth," so we're doing good in that category. It also says, "At about a 1 year to 18 months of age, you should start using a soft baby toothbrush and a small dab of toothpaste that does not have fluoride in it. (This type of toothpaste is safe for your baby to swallow.)" (Agreed with by Parents.)
As far as breastfeeding, I'm not sure how it affects her teeth. One site states, "Nighttime snacks are highly cavity causing because saliva is not very mobile during sleep, leaving baby without this rinsing and antibacterial protection." I thought breastmilk was antibacterial. They also say, "Among breastfed infants who develop nursing caries, most are those who comfort nurse for long periods during the night after teeth have developed. And among these, most are those who have frequent snacking and sugary foods or juices in their diets." They advise, "during night breastfeeding one can encourage some swallowing after nursing by disturbing the child a bit before they fall back to sleep or by providing a sip of water."
For prevention of cavities, this site recommends xylitol, found in Trident gum, as it "is a natural fruit ingredient that promotes dental healing and can be found in special chewing gums for those who are old enough." Also, "Avocado, carrots, raspberry, strawberry, and yellow plum have all been found to contain anti-cavity ingredients. Likely many other dark-colored fruits and vegetables will be discovered to have the same qualities. There are many herbs that fight caries, such as cloves, mint, thyme and savory. In cheese, the lactose sugar is pre-digested. The milk protein left in cheese has been shown to be anti-cavity. Once the baby is eating solids regularly, it would be a great practice to end a meal with any of these foods or to choose them as snacks.
For us adults, we have been using Eco-dent DailyCare, which is a baking soda tooth powder, instead of toothpaste. It lacks glycerin and fluoride. This is the whole reason my husband likes it! He heard one of the two coats your teeth so they don't repair themselves. My girlfriend, Daja, uses tooth soap for her family. I'm not sure if this is the same stuff, but here's a site for some. I believe the kind she uses comes in strips. Another blog recommends Tooth Chips.
So far, for baby oral hygiene, we have a Summer Fingerbrush for Karrots. She loves it! It also works in relieving teething a bit. (Now, whether it's got BPA, I'm not sure.) We're also breastfeeding (frequently at night still) and not feeding her juices or anything with sugar. All she's tried as meals are avocado and sweet potatoes.
Anyone have any tips, advice, or research to add?