Keeping your child’s primary teeth in good condition is crucial. Good oral care should start as early as birth. Although they are temporary, baby (or “milk”) teeth serve important functions (chewing food properly, speaking, and as placeholders for adult teeth) and can be prone to cavities. Baby bottle tooth decay refers to tooth caries in infants and toddlers. Depending on the cause, upper front teeth may be more likely to suffer decay. However, it can affect other locations.
To help you have a more informed understanding about baby bottle tooth decay and its prevention, keep in mind:
1. Baby bottle tooth decay can occur in infants as young as 12-18 months old.
2. Milk, formulas, fruit juices, and sweetened drinks can stick to an infant’s or child’s teeth. Bacteria thriving in the mouth feed on sugar and produce acid that causes cavities.
3. A parent or caregiver can pass cavity-causing bacteria to an infant through saliva (e.g. when s/he puts a feeding spoon in her mouth, shares food, or kisses the baby).
4. Early loss of primary teeth due to baby bottle tooth decay can cause poor eating habits, crooked teeth, speech problems, and damaged permanent teeth.
5. Allowing an infant or toddler to fall asleep with a bottle of milk or juice in his/her mouth increases the risk of this condition.
Baby bottle tooth decay can be prevented by taking proactive steps to protect children’s oral health:
1. After feeding a young child (even one with no or few teeth), use a soft, damp cloth to clean and remove food particles from his/her gums.
2. Once your child’s teeth start to erupt, use a child-sized, soft-bristled toothbrush and smear it with a rice grain-sized drop of Canadian Dental Association (CDA) approved toothpaste for children. Use fluoride-free toothpaste for children under two years old.
3. From age three onward, teach your child to brush his/her teeth with a pea-sized dollop of CDA-approved fluoride toothpaste. A dentist can recommend which toothpastes are safe for younger children.
4. Encourage your child to eat a healthy and balanced diet. Eliminate sugary snacks and drinks, and teach them to rinse the mouth with water after eating fruit or drinking juice.
5. Clean pacifiers properly and avoid dipping them in sweet liquids, especially at bedtime.
Once baby teeth appear, schedule an appointment to talk to a dentist. Starting early with regular cleanings is a great way to promote good oral health and address any problems early. If you are looking for reliable dentists to treat children in London, Ontario, visit Cosmo Dental Centre or call us at (519) 659-2767.