Tooth decay among babies primarily develops from long-term and frequent exposure to liquids that contain sugar. Aside from milk, the other liquids include sweetened drinks, fruit juice, and soda. Known as baby bottle tooth decay, this condition is also common among breast-fed babies who are exposed to extended feeding habits, as well as those who were given pacifiers dipped in sugar, honey, or syrup. The sweet fluids and sugars accumulate around the baby’s teeth and gums. This results in increased bacteria in the mouth, producing acids that attack the teeth and gums. Baby tooth decay starts after several attacks of acid-producing bacteria, particularly in the upper front teeth that can also affect the other teeth.
Preventing Baby Tooth Decay
- Do not let your child fall asleep with a bottle of milk or a bottle containing a formula, sweetened liquids or juice.
- Clean and massage your baby’s gums to encourage help in teething and encourage the growth of healthy teeth. To do this, get a damp square gauze or washcloth. Wrap it around your index finger and massage your baby’s gums and gingival tissue gently. Do this after every feeding.
- Use only a soft toothbrush and water when brushing your child’s first tooth/teeth. The removal of plaque should start upon the appearance of the baby’s first tooth. Use a fluoride-free toothpaste if you opt to use a toothpaste.
- Floss the baby teeth that have erupted.
- Bring your child to a Hilliard dentist as soon as the first tooth erupts. It is advised that a child see a dentist between the ages of 6 to 12 months.
- Use a toothpaste with fluoride only when your child turns three years old to reduce cavities. Put a pea-size fluoride toothpaste on the toothbrush. The use of toothpaste with fluoride should start from age 3 and continue until your child is 6 years old. It would be a good idea to ask a dentist first, too, especially if your water contains fluoride.
- Guide your child when brushing to avoid swallowing the toothpaste. A child can be left alone with brushing when he turns 6 or 7 years old.
- Avoid feeding your child with liquids that contain sugars or sodas. Bottles are for milk, formula, water and special electrolyte-containing solutions when your child has diarrhea.
- Encourage your child to finish his milk before going to bed.
- Avoid allowing your child to use a pacifier. If it is not possible, let them use a clean one without dipping it in honey or sugar.
- Motivate your child to drink milk and water from a cup as soon as they turn a year old.
- Motivate your child to eat healthy foods.
- Avoid sharing saliva with your baby by licking pacifiers or using feeding spoons.
- Bring your child regularly to Dr. James Voyles after their first birthday. Dr. Voyles offers special sealant coatings for children to help prevent baby tooth decay.
Our Hilliard dental office is not only for adults, but is also a child-friendly dental clinic!