Another way to keep cavities at bay: starve plaque of its favorite food. That doesn't mean putting baby on a no-carb diet--it simply means limiting the amount of time sugars spend on teeth. Sugar at mealtime is okay, but constant sweets can be harmful. This is why the AAPD insists that parents don't let baby fall asleep with a bottle containing anything other than water and recommends against nighttime bottles or at-will breastfeeding after teeth have come in. Breast milk and formulas contain sugar and can cause cavities if their residue sits on teeth all night.
Save juice for mealtime only; sipping for a long period of time can harm teeth. And cut out soda or make it a special-occasion treat--its acid eats away at tooth enamel, says Linda Ciampa, RN, a nurse at Milford Regional Medical Center, in Massachusetts. Meanwhile, if a food is gummy or sticks to teeth (think cookies, white bread, chewy vitamins, and raisins), follow consumption with a prompt brushing.
On the flip side, there are lots of foods baby should eat often. Dairy can fight plaque and strengthen teeth. In fact, studies show that American, Swiss, and mozzarella cheeses help cut the risk for cavities. And citrus fruits stimulate saliva production, helping wash away substances on which plaque feeds.
Ultimately, good dental health is all about sensible choices and preventive care. Establish these habits early and your family will have plenty of reason to smile.