UPDATED: June 2019
Your baby is pretty much perfect. Oh, sure they have their days, but who doesn’t? You have done and will keep doing everything in your power to keep it that way, too. That includes doing your very best to ensure they keep that adorable smile, well, adorable. In your quest to help your baby get the best possible healthy start, you want to keep their teeth healthy and white spot free. So how do you keep baby’s teeth healthy and white spot free?
Can teeth be too white?
As it turns out, pearly white teeth may be beautiful, but super white spots on the teeth are not desirable. In general, white spots on baby teeth have one of two causes: 1) too much of a good thing, or 2) too much of a bad thing.
Too Much Good…
Fluorosis is a sign of too much of a good thing. When a young child takes in too much fluoride, they can develop white streaks or spots on the teeth. The good news is these spots are strong and not dangerous. It’s uncommon to have fluorosis of permanent teeth. But, most parents would rather not have their child develop fluorosis at all.
The best news is that fluorosis is avoidable. Talk to your child’s dentist about how much fluoride they should be getting. Find out if your water is fluoridated before it comes into your house. Some fluoride will help build strong teeth, so you don’t want to avoid it completely. It’s about a proper balance for good health.
Your dentist may recommend a fluoride free toothpaste or gel until your child can reliably brush without swallowing the product. For the same reason, children under 6 are generally not recommended to use rinses with fluoride. They don’t have the swallowing reflex under control well enough to rinse without swallowing too much of a fluoride rinse.
Too Much Bad…
The other cause of white spots on baby teeth is early decay. If a child does not have enough fluoride while growing baby teeth, those teeth are softer and more susceptible to decay. Poor or absent brushing habits can cause or contribute to decay, letting bacteria overgrow and acid conditions damage the teeth. Those white spots generally start as a white spot near the gum line that, left untreated, will likely progress to yellow or brown spots. These spots are dangerous to the health of the baby tooth.
These spots are also avoidable. It’s important to build good oral hygiene habits right from the start. Here are a few ideas to get started:
- Wipe baby’s gums with a soft damp cloth after feedings before teeth erupt.
- Use a baby-sized toothbrush and an age-appropriate toothpaste or gel to clean baby teeth after they make an appearance.
- Consult your dentist to find out if your child would benefit from a fluoride containing toothpaste or if they should use a fluoride free cleaner.
Taking care of baby teeth and teaching your child to care for their teeth is the best foundation you can lay for lifelong oral health. It’s also worth considering your sharing habits with a baby. Cavities are caused by bacteria acting on the tooth enamel, and some studies have indicated that cavity-causing bacteria can pass from parent to child. It’s best to avoid cleaning a baby’s pacifier by putting it in your mouth and to avoid eating off the same spoon as the baby to help prevent spreading bacteria.
If you start to see white spots on your child’s baby teeth, don’t panic. Do visit the dentist. Early white spot lesions are treatable when caught early. Remineralizing the spots early is a lot healthier for the child and easier on everyone than ending up with a mouth of fillings or crowns on baby teeth.