Tooth decay can occur as soon as teeth appear in your child’s mouth. Dr. Sula and Associates want you to be prepared to help your child maintain a healthy mouth and avoid developing cavities. To learn more about the effects of tooth decay and make your appointment with our dentists in Katy and Humble, Texas, please call Advantage Dentists at 281-829-5000.
Many parents wonder why there is so much concern about cavities in baby teeth when those teeth will eventually fall out and be replaced by the permanent teeth. The answer is clear: baby teeth set the pattern for the adult teeth. The decay from baby teeth may transfer to the adult teeth that are below the gums. Early tooth loss due to cavities can cause the adult teeth to shift out of place, resulting in crooked, misplaced adult teeth. Healthy baby teeth also aid in proper speech development and in chewing and digestion.
Cavities are caused by bacteria in the mouth. This bacteria may build up due to poor oral hygiene habits, but it can also occur as a result of frequent exposure to sweetened liquids or through the transfer of saliva from your mouth to your child’s – for example, by sharing spoons or cleaning pacifiers with your mouth before giving them to your child. When cavities develop in infants and toddlers, they are often referred to as baby bottle tooth decay.
When children keep a bottle of sweetened liquid with them in bed (such as breast milk, baby formula, juice or sugar water), these liquids can remain in the mouth for long periods of time. The bacteria in the mouth feed on the sugars from these liquids and produce harmful acids that attack the teeth.
To help prevent cavities from developing in your child’s mouth, we recommend that you:
- Rinse pacifiers and toys in clean water, and have your child use a clean spoon. Do not share eating utensils or clean pacifiers and toys with your own mouth.
- Gently clean your child’s gums with a clean washcloth after each feeding.
- When brushing teeth, use an age-appropriate, soft-bristled toothbrush and an ADA-approved toothpaste with a very small amount of toothpaste.
- After your child is able to spit out excess toothpaste, begin using a pea-sized amount of toothpaste.
- Do not give your child a bottle or sippy cup with sugary drinks.
- Encourage your child to use a regular cup after they reach 12 months of age.
- Do not dip pacifiers in honey or sweet liquids.
- Help you child maintain a balanced, nutritious diet. Limit their consumption of sugary snacks.
- Do not let your child take a bottle to bed. If he or she insists on have a bottle with them, fill it with water.
- Clean your child’s teeth for them until about age 7. By this age, they will have developed the motor skills and coordination needed to reach and clean all areas of their mouths.
- Ask your dentist to check your child’s fluoride levels.
- Make and keep all regular dental appointments.
For more information about cavities in baby teeth, please contact our office today.