How to prevent early childhood tooth decay?
Every child is prone to get tooth decay as the enamel of the baby teeth is much softer and thinner than the permanent teeth. Though milk teeth are going to fall off, they play a vital role in helping children eat and speak. Along with that, permanent teeth are healthy only when milk teeth are preserved and kept clean.
Early childhood tooth decay is the most chronic infectious disease because if tooth decay is not prevented, it can cause life-threatening infections to the baby along with immense pain whose treatment is awfully expensive. This also affects the permanent teeth of the baby.
Healthy dental habits in babies should be followed well since day 1 even bore teeth start coming in as gingivitis – a phase of gum infection can be critical.
What causes tooth decay in children?
Baby bottle tooth decay is the most common reason for oral complications in children. Tooth decay develops when sugar-containing foods and liquids are left in the mouth for a longer period i.e., overnight. This lactose – a form of sugar present in the milk and formula, develops bacteria in the mouth that feed on the soft enamel of the baby tooth. This causes the tooth to decay by developing cavities, which are black holes that expose the pulp of the teeth containing major nerves and blood vessels.
These sugars present in the milk and formula do not only decay the tooth but also affect the tender tissues around the teeth – the gums. Bacteria dissolve these sugars into acid which eventually results in teeth decay and gums withering.
There are several ways this occurs of which some are:
- When parents put their babies to bed with a bottle of milk, juice, or formula.
- Children are constantly drinking milk throughout the day.
- Breastfeeding babies.
Many ways can prevent Baby bottle tooth decay.
How to prevent early childhood tooth decay?
- Get your teeth checked while pregnant.
Many to-be mothers wonder if they should visit a dentist during pregnancy and the answer to it is YES because of the cravings you get.
Pregnancy cravings are justified and there is no harm in that but, you tend to forget that these food cravings are capable of harming your oral health. Visiting a dentist regularly while you are pregnant is essential for you as well as the baby. The hormonal changes that your body is undergoing can put your oral health at risk by developing periodontal diseases that cause inflammation to your gums and make them bleed. This condition is described as Gingivitis.
Sometimes, these inflamed gums can cause infection in the teeth and their roots that can easily mix with your blood which can further mix with your baby’s blood.
- Take care of your baby’s mouth.
Do NOT put your child to bed with a bottle of milk or formula. This will expose the child’s mouth to natural sugars throughout the night. The longer the teeth are exposed to sugars, the easier it is for bacteria to produce in the mouth and cause baby bottle tooth.
- Avoid pacifier alternatives.
Pacifiers are not good for a child’s oral health. Pacifiers hold the capacity to disorient the jaw structure of the baby and also disturb the arrangement of the teeth in the mouth.
Some parents replace the pacifier with a bottle or a sippy cup. If you plan to do this, do not give your child milk in it to sip on it the whole day and walk around with it. This will only keep feeding the bacteria more and more lactose. Filling these with water instead is very much ideal as this not only maintains the oral health of the baby but also keeps your baby hydrated.
- Serving fruit juices during meals.
Do not give your baby fruit juices before 6 months of age. It is recommended to give your baby juice between the age of 8 months and 12 months and limited to 4 ounces per day diluted with water. Once you begin serving fruit juices to your child, make sure to give them only during a meal. This helps to reduce the chances of baby bottle tooth decay as these juices have the highest amount of glucose - a form of sugar.
What is a baby bottle tooth decay treatment?
- Fluoridated water.
Instead of using fluoridated supplements for a child, which is necessary for sure, you can just let your child drink tap water that contains natural fluorides added to it. Till the time you start utilizing fluoridated toothpaste, it is necessary to have a supplement that has fluoride in it to protect your child's teeth and keep them clean and protected from decay.
- Clean their mouth after every meal.
Though your baby may not have teeth yet, it is still very essential to keep their gums clean. You can do so by gently wiping their gums with a soft cloth or gauze and damping them with warm water. As you observe tiny teeth piercing through the gums, upgrade utilizing toothpaste as much as the size of a pea. You can use a baby toothbrush with the softest bristles and a long handle, or you can do so with your finger too.
- Teach them to drink from a cup.
Get your child to familiarize themselves with cups by letting them play with them and eventually serve them water in it and teach them how to drink from a cup. As the child turns 1 year old, take their bottle away and give them a cup only to drink water and milk from. This prevents liquid from getting collected in the mouth overnight and treats baby bottle tooth decay.
- Make the baby drink water before bed.
To prevent baby bottle tooth decay or even in that matter, treat any damage caused by that, you must make sure your child drinks plenty of water. This keeps the baby well hydrated and also protects the teeth and gums by constantly wiping the dirt away. This also keeps the bacteria away; gums stay healthy and teeth shiny.
- Visit your dentist.
No matter how many steps you follow to protect your child's teeth, you need to visit the pediatric dentist regularly. There are times when babies are born with complications before birth which are curable at early stages. All children have different oral health care that they need which you may not recognize.
At Kanata Highlands Dental Care we offer the best service to maintain the shine of your smile.
For more information, contact us today at (613)-270-1001 or book an appointment today!