Tooth decay is a common problem among children, especially when kids are big fans of unhealthy types of food such as candies and chocolates. Tooth decay can be a costly dental problem to treat, in addition to being uncomfortable and leading to life-threatening infections if left unattended. Nursing caries or baby bottle tooth decay are other names for tooth decay in baby teeth.
What causes tooth decay in baby teeth?
When acid-producing bacteria infect a baby’s mouth, tooth decay develops. Bacteria can be passed to babies through saliva by parents and caregivers. Bacteria spread, for example, through sharing saliva on spoons or cups, testing foods before feeding them to babies and wiping a pacifier in the mouth of the parent or caregiver. Tooth decay can also occur when a child’s teeth and gums are exposed to any liquid or food other than water for extended periods or regularly. Bacteria in the mouth convert natural or added sugars in liquids or foods to acid. The outer layer of the teeth is dissolved by the acid, causing decay. Baby bottle caries often occur when parents put their children to bed with a bottle of formula, milk, juice or any sugary drinks. This practice allows the sugar to be in contact with the teeth for a longer time resulting in tooth decay.
What are the ways to prevent tooth decay in babies?
- Before your baby is born, take good care of your oral health. It is necessary to visit a dentist for oral care while pregnant. In this way, your Edmonton dentist can help you with your oral health and your child’s oral health so that parents can be prepared before their child is born.
- It is essential to take proper care of your baby’s teeth whether you choose to breastfeed or bottle-feed.
- Never put your child to sleep with a bottle of milk or juice in his/her mouth. This practice exposes your child’s teeth to sugars that not only increases risk of caries but also puts them in danger of ear infections and choking.
- Allowing your child to wander around with or drink from a bottle or sippy cup as a pacifier is not recommended. Fill the bottle or sippy cup exclusively with water if your child wants to drink it between meals.
- As soon as possible, teach your child to drink from a standard cup, preferably around 12 to 15 months. Drinking from a cup reduces the chance of liquid collecting around the teeth.
- If your child has to drink from a bottle or sippy cup for an extended time, only fill it with water. Only offer water to your child if they are thirsty during car rides.
- Limit your child’s intake of sugary or sticky items like candies, gummies, cookies, Fruit Roll-Ups, or cookies. Sugar can also be found in meals like crackers and chips. These foods are especially harmful if your youngster eats them frequently.
- Maintain your health. Infections caused by tooth decay in baby teeth can cause fever and pain. If left untreated, tooth decay infection can spread to other head and neck regions, causing significant swelling.
- Have self-assurance. When children’s front teeth are decaying, they may not smile or hide their mouths when speaking. They will occasionally cease playing with other children. A healthy grin can help children gain the self-confidence to have positive social interactions.
- Juice should be served only during meals or not at all. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, juice is not recommended for babies less than six months. If the juice is given to babies aged 6 to 12 months, it should be kept to a maximum of 4 ounces per day and diluted with water (half water, half juice). Any juice offered to children aged 1 to 6 years should be limited to 4 to 6 ounces per day.
- Make an appointment for your child to see an Edmonton dentist before turning one. The dentist can see your child sooner if you have concerns. If your child’s dentist is not accessible at the age of one, your pediatrician can examine her mouth.
Maintaining your child’s oral health can be challenging, especially when it comes to their unhealthy lifestyle and diet. Let us help you care for your child’s oral health. Our team at My Family Dental Clinic can help your child by conducting a comprehensive exam and helping your child achieve optimal oral health at an early age. Call our office today at 780-937-3737 to book an appointment!