Infant oral health helps protect your baby’s teeth for the years to come. Primary teeth help your child to chew and speak and hold a space in the jaws for permanent teeth that are growing under the gums. If a primary tooth is lost too early, the permanent teeth could drift into the empty space and make it difficult for the permanent teeth to come in which leads to crooked or crowded teeth. This is why it is important for your child to have good oral hygiene that starts right after birth. After the first couple days after birth, wipe the gums with a clean, moist gauze pad or washcloth. Repeat this every time you feed your baby. Usually your baby’s first four teeth start to appear around 6 months, but sometimes it can be up to 12-14 months, and most children will have a full set of 20 primary teeth by age 3. Decay can occur as soon as the teeth start to appear. Tooth decay in infant and toddlers teeth is usually referred to as “Baby Bottle Tooth Decay.” This usually affects the upper front teeth. You may be thinking, “What causes this?” The most common cause is when teeth are exposed to sugar drinks for a prolonged time. Breastfeeding can cause cavities because like formula, it contains sugar. Tooth decay also occurs if you put your baby to bed with a bottle. Tooth decay can also come from cavity-causing bacteria in your saliva being passed from you to your baby. Usually this occurs if you put your baby’s feeding spoon in your mouth or cleaning a pacifier in your mouth before you give it back to your baby. Insufficient fluoride can also increase risk for tooth decay. There is no need to worry though because there are plenty of preventative habits that can help decrease the chance of tooth decay for your baby. The first is to make sure you are not sharing saliva with your baby either through feeding utensils or by licking pacifiers. After each feeding, wipe your baby’s gums with a clean, damp washcloth or gauze. When your baby’s teeth come in, start brushing them with a child-size toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste (size of a grain of rice) until the age of 3. Only put milk, formula or breastmilk in bottles. Don’t fill the bottle with sugar water, juice or soft drinks. Before putting your child to bed or down for a nap make sure your baby finishes their bottle. Only use clean pacifiers, don’t dip in in sugar or honey. Encourage your child to switch from a bottle to a cup by his/her first birthday and discourage ongoing use of sippy cups. Thumbsucking is normal for infants but it should be stopped by age 3-4 before it causes problems like crooked teeth or bite problems and also changes in the roof of the mouth. Thumbsucking can also cause these problems if done for an extended period of time. When your baby start eating solid foods, make healthy choices that will help with the development and growth of your child’s teeth like fruits and vegetables.