Just as adult teeth can decay, baby teeth can also decay from the time they erupt. Decay is caused when bacteria use sugars from foods
to produce acids. The acids then attack the teeth causing mineral loss which can lead to the need for a filling.
Babies are not born with decay causing bacteria in their mouths. It is passed by contact from their mother such as kissing, food tasting or by mothers cleaning the dummy in their own mouths. This emphasises the importance of parents ensuring their own teeth and gums are healthy before the birth of their baby.
The transfer of these bacteria can be delayed if parents and caregivers have healthy, decay free mouths.
Babies under four to six months of age need only breast milk or formula.
If breastfeeding: remove the baby from the breast after feeding. This ensures the baby is suckling for food not comfort and it does not encourage constant milk in the mouth on the teeth and gums.
If bottle feeding: take the bottle away when the baby has had enough. The bottle should only contain breast milk or appropriate infant formula. Any sweet fluids including orange juice,
flavoured milk, cordials and soft drinks cause decay and are discouraged.
Introduce a feeding cup between six and eight months of age. In most cases, the bottle can be discarded at 12 months old. Encourage children to drink water rather than fruit juices or sweet drinks when thirsty.