Unfortunately, yes, tooth decay can happen in babies. Too much sugar is usually associated with infant tooth decay. Bacteria in a baby’s mouth feed on sugars and produce acid that destroy teeth. Although children do eventually lose their baby teeth, it is still important to protect these teeth. They need them for chewing, speaking properly, and of course for those adorable smiles! Just as important, they act as place holders for the permanent teeth. If decay in baby teeth is allowed to continue, it can cause problems in later life, and more immediately, it can cause infection and pain for your baby. It is preventable though. Here are 3 things you should know about children’s dentistry:
1. Avoid letting baby fall asleep with a bottle in their mouth or carry around a bottle.
“Bottle caries” can occur when babies are allowed to fall asleep with a bottle in their mouth or allowed to carry around a bottle promoting constant sipping. This allows the sugars in the milk or formula to stay on their teeth and exacerbates the effects of the acid from bacteria in the mouth.
2. Avoid sweet drinks.
It is important to only put milk, formula or water in a baby or toddler’s bottle or sippy cup. Avoid using sweet drinks, even drinks made from fruit, as they contain large amounts of sugar. For a variety of reasons, including the health of a child’s teeth, soft drinks are not considered appropriate for a baby or toddler. Some parents do mix a small amount of fruit juice with water to begin encouraging a child to use a sippy cup, but it is not recommended to use juice that has not been diluted.
3. Start brushing teeth early.
As soon as a baby gets their first tooth, it is important to start brushing. You can even begin massaging a baby’s gums before you start brushing. You do not need to use toothpaste to begin with, as the brushing action is enough to clean teeth. As they get a little older, they can begin using an age appropriate fluoride toothpaste. When they are old enough to spit on their own, you can choose toothpaste containing fluoride they will enjoy.
If you are concerned your baby may be experiencing tooth decay, or you have questions about the health of your child’s teeth, please contact us.