What Baby Bottle Tooth Decay means for Your FamilyMarch 9, 2020 6:25 am
Baby Bottle Tooth Decay, also known as Early Childhood Caries, very simply means tooth decay in babies and toddlers under five years old. It mainly affects the upper front teeth, though any tooth can be affected.
Why the name?
The condition is usually caused by overuse of baby bottles, filled with decay-causing liquids. You may not have heard of it, because many people assume baby teeth are less important than the adult set. However, that couldn’t be further from the truth – so let us explain.
Why is it a problem?
While it’s true that baby teeth will start to fall out around the age of six or seven, losing or damaging teeth before then can have bad consequences later on. For example, adult teeth could grow into the wrong places, meaning braces or other forms of orthodontic treatment are needed. It also means your child is more likely to suffer from the immediate symptoms of poor dental health – swollen gums, painfully decayed teeth, or even fever if there is an infection. They might also have speech or swallowing problems if there are many teeth missing.
To avoid any kind of unnecessary complications or treatment, whether now or later on in life, it makes sense to look after your child’s baby teeth just as you would for a grown-up
What causes the tooth damage?
The main culprit here is exposure to sugar. What does that mean? The kinds of food and drink your child has – milk, formula milk, juices and soft drinks are all big offenders when it comes to sugar content. Sugar is bad news for teeth, because it fuels bacteria in the mouth that produce acid and plaque – and the more sugar, the bigger the problem. The acid destroys the tooth enamel over time, causing holes or caries that need to be filled. Plaque forms a sticky film on teeth that accumulates more bacteria, building a vicious cycle of tooth damage.
It might sound surprising, but mum and dad’s dental health can also play a part. Sharing spoons, or using your mouth to clean a pacifier, can pass on any harmful bacteria from your own mouth to your child’s. So, if you have any kind of tooth decay, it could spread. Another cause of early tooth decay is a lack of fluoride. This is easily treatable with a supplement, but is not always easy to detect in the early stages, when it shows as white spots on the teeth
What can be done about it?
The best way to avoid any sort of dental problems is for everyone to have regular six-monthly dental appointments. For baby, this should start as soon as the first tooth starts to show. Drs. Nicolas & Asp has a range of adult and pediatric dentists, so you can get the whole family checked out in one visit
Keeping best health
There’s lots of other ways you can help keep baby teeth in great working order. Make sure kids mostly have water to drink, and if they have milk, don’t give a bottle at bedtime. Instead, finish the milk, then brush teeth before bed. Avoid any kind of processed foods or soft drinks that are high in sugar and other bad things, and don’t put sugar or syrup on a pacifier. If your child already has a sweet tooth, then break the habit gradually. Dilute sweet drinks over a couple of weeks until – eventually – it’s just water in there!
Before baby teeth start to come through, it’s a good idea to make a habit of wiping gums and mouths with a piece of damp gauze. This not only keeps the mouth clean and bacteria-free, but also sets good habits in motion for toothbrushing later on. Once baby teeth start to show, make sure you’re brushing twice a day with a small amount of toothpaste – around the size of a grain of rice to start. When the kids are old enough to brush their own teeth, make sure they’re doing it properly and not missing any teeth out. Once you know how, its easy to avoid early tooth decay for your kids.
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