In infants, tooth decay is commonly referred to as baby bottle tooth decay. This condition occurs when the natural sugars from liquids such as fruit juice or formula latch onto the surface of the child's teeth for an extended period of time. These liquids combine with the bacteria already present inside the child's mouth to create an acid that attacks the structure of the teeth. When left untreated, the child may develop speech problems or crooked teeth because of the damage caused by the infected or lost tooth.
Baby Bottle Tooth Decay
What Causes This Condition?
Tooth decay in young children most commonly occurs when they are put to bed with a bottle each night over an extended period, particularly bottles that contain sugary drinks. Over time, prolonged exposure to these types of drinks allows acids to easily attach to the surface of their teeth. Children who are not getting enough fluoride can also suffer from this condition. Additionally, children who have their pacifiers dipped in a sweet substance are at increased risk as well.
How Can I Prevent This Condition?
According to the Healthy Mouth Healthy Body, the risk of tooth decay appears as soon as your child is around six months old. This process of decay in infants and toddlers is referred as ‘Baby Bottle Tooth Decay’, which usually occurs in the upper front teeth. However, there are chances that other teeth may be affected as well.
- In fact, the severity of tooth decay in infants and toddler is such that their teeth cannot be saved and therefore needs to be extracted. The bright side of this situation is that tooth decay is preventable.
- Most kids have a full set of 20 primary teeth by the time they are three years of age and as they grow their jaws develop allowing space for more teeth.
- Cleaning Your Child’s Teeth It is important to clean your baby’s mouth in the first few days after birth. You can do that by wiping the gums using a clean washcloth or moist gauze pad. Tooth decay can occur instantly after the teeth appear. Use a child-size toothbrush and water to brush the teeth of your child.
- In most cases, the first four front-side teeth develop when your child is around 6 months of age. In some cases, the initial tooth appears only after 12 or 14 months. For children older than 2 years, brush their teeth with a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. Be sure they spit out the toothpaste. (Ask your child's dentist or physician if you are considering using fluoride toothpaste before age 2).
- IDA recommends that until you ’re comfortable that your child can brush on his or her own, continue to brush your child's teeth twice a day with a child- size toothbrush and a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. When your child has two teeth that touch, you should begin flossing their teeth daily. To know the correct method to brush your baby's teeth, visit your dentist today.
In addition to following these tips, it is also important to schedule your child's first dental appointment around his first birthday, after the first tooth has erupted.
This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.