Love is in the air! And we express it in many ways to those we care most about. Since February is National Children’s Dental Health Month, let’s focus on expressing your love in caring for your baby’s teeth.
Tooth Decay in Your Baby’s Teeth is Preventable
Tooth decay is the most common, long-term childhood disease. It is five times more common than asthma. Children, even babies, and toddlers can develop dental caries. And it is totally preventable. Knowing what causes cavities will help in preventing them.
Cause of Tooth Decay
Sugars in the foods and drinks we eat combine with bacteria in the mouth to form an acid. This acid attacks the enamel on your teeth and lasts about 20 minutes. And every time you eat or drink something, another acid attack goes on for another 20 minutes.
Acid attacks weaken your tooth enamel and create the perfect opportunity for developing cavities.
Because their tooth enamel isn’t fully developed yet, kids and teens are more susceptible to tooth decay than adults are.
How Tooth Decay Affects Your Baby’s Health
Tooth decay is another word for cavities or dental caries. Cavities cause pain and infection which affects a baby’s overall health in a negative way. Because when their teeth hurt or their body is dealing with an infection, they won’t want to eat. And that means they won’t be getting the vitamins and minerals necessary for healthy growth.
Also, If baby teeth are healthy, it is more likely the adult teeth will be healthy. Show a little love and care now for long-term benefits for Baby.
Tooth decay is unhealthy, and it looks bad, too. If your child has decayed and crooked teeth, they may not want to smile.
Are Baby Teeth Important?
Tooth decay can begin as soon as your baby’s teeth start erupting. They usually start popping through the gums by the time they reach six months old. And if decay isn’t treated, it can destroy those little teeth.
But are those little teeth really all that important? Yes.
Baby teeth reserve or hold a place in the jaw for the adult teeth when they arrive. If a baby tooth is lost too early, the teeth on either side of it may drift into the empty space. When this happens, there may not be enough room for the adult teeth to come in straight. And crowded and crooked teeth are hard to keep clean.
Baby bottle tooth decay is caused by allowing your baby to drink milk or juice from a bottle for long periods of time.
The enamel of baby teeth isn’t very thick. It’s about half the thickness of an eggshell, and that’s it. When a child is allowed to fall asleep with a bottle in their mouth or constantly drink from a bottle during the day, the sugar in whatever they are drinking coats their teeth. (Yes, even milk contains sugar. And have you read the list of ingredients on formula?)
Again, bacteria in the mouth change the sugar to acid. And that acid gradually dissolves the tooth enamel which isn’t fully developed yet creating the perfect opportunity for decay to occur.
BBTD eventually destroys teeth. Teeth break off at the gum line. The decay continues destroying teeth, decaying roots. And this causes ongoing pain.
Dental repair of BBTD requires general anesthesia. When the problem is detected early enough, the teeth are capped. But if the decay is severe, your baby’s teeth will be pulled out.
If the teeth must be pulled, the permanent teeth may come in crooked or be crowded. Because, remember, baby teeth save appropriate space for adult teeth.
Prevent Tooth Decay in Your Baby’s Mouth
Tooth decay caused by baby bottles is preventable. You may not agree with all of these preventative tips, but they are worth reading and making note of. They make good dental sense, especially in preventing Baby Bottle Tooth Decay.
- Don’t let your baby fall asleep with a bottle in their mouth. They should finish their bedtime or naptime bottles before going to bed. Never put them to bed or allow them to fall asleep with a bottle containing milk, formula, fruit juice, or any liquid that contains sugar. Even watered-down drinks damage tooth enamel. And even though baby teeth don’t usually start coming in until 6 months, it’s best not to start a bad habit before they do.
- Never substitute a bottle for a pacifier, security object, toy, or being held. Give a bottle only during mealtimes. Continual sipping of liquids containing sugar causes tooth decay. Offer liquids with sugar and sweets at meal times only. This includes juice drinks. If your little one is thirsty between snacks or meals, offer water in a cup.
- If your child uses a pacifier, never dip it in sugar or honey. And don’t put it in your mouth before giving it to them. The bacteria in your mouth can be passed on to your baby.
- Once the first tooth erupts, your baby should not be allowed to breastfeed constantly or fall asleep while breastfeeding.
More Tips to Prevent Tooth Decay
- The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends introducing a cup at 6 months and training them to drink from a sippy cup by their first birthday. This is the best way to prevent bottle dependency. It takes gradual exposure to a cup over three months or longer for a baby to learn to prefer the cup over the bottle.
- If your infant develops a bottle habit, fill it only with water. Water won’t harm tooth enamel. It’s also boring. And eventually, your child will give it up.
- Limit between-meal snacks.
- Avoid using sweet foods and drinks as rewards.
- Keep your baby’s mouth clean by using gauze or a baby toothbrush after feedings.
- Use water and a soft children’s toothbrush for daily cleaning once your child has teeth.
- Take your child to Davis Dental for their first visit by their first birthday.
Your Baby’s First Dental Visit
It’s time to visit our office after the baby’s first tooth appears but no later than their first birthday. Consider this a “well-baby checkup” for your baby’s teeth.
Dr. Davis will check for decay and other problems and show you how to properly clean and care for your baby’s teeth. He may advise you on your baby’s diet, use of a pacifier, and oral care products for your family to use. Ask him how to prevent injuries to your baby’s mouth and teeth and what you should do in case of a dental emergency.
Quality Dental Care for Your Whole Family
3249 Sparks Road
Cheyenne, WY 82001
Open Monday through Thursday from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm