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Babies develop their first tooth at around 6 months of age, although sometimes it can happen earlier or later. Rarely, a baby may be born with a tooth. Around 1 in 2,000 babies are born with a tooth or teeth already in place. These are called ‘natal teeth’. (1)
You will need to brush your baby’s teeth as soon as they appear. If there is just one tooth it may be easier to do this with some toothpaste on a cloth or your finger, until he gets more teeth.
Make sure you brush his teeth twice a day. (2)
Breast feed your baby! Breast feeding contributes to good jaw development. Some people may tell you that breast milk rots your baby’s teeth, however, this is a myth. The sugars in breast milk do not cause dental decay or cracked enamel.
In an experiment, scientists had to add sucrose to breast milk in order for cavities to occur. How often you brush your baby’s teeth and what other foods he is consuming will be more of a clue as to whether he will develop cavities. (3, 4) In fact, breast milk has been shown to actively protect against dental cavities in babies who were nursed for more than 40 days. (5).
Nursing into toddlerhood was not shown to cause cavities either, unless the child nursed very frequently. The Caries Research journal wrote:
"The results of the present study demonstrate that prolonged demand breast-feeding does not lead to higher caries prevalence." (6)
On the other hand, baby bottle tooth decay causes cavities for 6 percent of under-3 year olds. This is because the carbohydrates in the bottle can be utilized by microorganisms to form a sticky plaque layer so that they can attach to the baby’s teeth. Falling asleep with the bottle is one of the most significant factors in the development of cavities. (5, 7)
If you are formula feeding, don’t make up your babies feeds with fluoridated water as this has been associated with fluorosis (poor enamel, cracked teeth) in babies and children. There is also concern that infants who ingest fluoride in water may be having too much.