Babies will start getting teeth around six months of age. Dentists recommend that infants are seen before their first birthday in order to assess dental health. Without proper dental care, baby bottle tooth decay occurs. It’s a common problem, also known as early childhood cavities. The good news is, as with most dental issues, the sooner you catch it, the easier it is to treat.
How does baby bottle tooth decay happen?
Kids drink a lot! As a result, the teeth are exposed to lots of sugar. It comes from what they drink and what they eat, including:
- Fruit juice
- Other sweet drinks
- Sugary snacks
When children (and especially babies) drink, the sugars will pool in their mouth around their teeth, creating a perfect environment for cavity and plaque causing bacteria. As time goes on, each time the child eats or drinks something with sugar – their teeth are attacked by acid. This weakens the enamel, and makes it that much easier for cavities to form.
Preventing baby bottle tooth decay:
Basically you prevent baby bottle tooth decay the same way you prevent cavities in adults! With proper dental care. For a toothless infant, you need to clean their gums daily with a clean, wet rag. Wash your hands, wrap the washcloth around your finger, and then gently wipe and massage the gums. This helps keep your infant’s gums healthy, and gets them used to you cleaning their mouth (which will be a very good thing when it’s time to start brushing teeth and going to the dentist). And never leave your infant with a bottle of milk, formula, or juice at night.
Once the teeth begin to erupt, you’ll switch to a toothbrush. Make sure to get an appropriately sized brush, with soft bristles. You will also need a fluoride free toothpaste until they are old enough to spit. Use a pea sized amount, and gently brush their teeth and gums. When they can spit, switch to a toothpaste with fluoride. Modifications to your child’s diet can also help prevent baby bottle tooth decay. Offer water instead of sugary drinks, limit sugary snacks, and acidic foods.
It’s important to instill good dental habits at a young age, that way your children will take care of their teeth for the rest of their lives. Is it time for a dental checkup, or do you suspect baby bottle tooth decay? Call Dr. Chauvin’s office to set up an appointment.