Good Oral Health From The Start
Did you know that children of all ages can have tooth decay? At our East Charlotte Dentist office, Dr. Sout, DDS treats both toddlers and infants for this condition.
While the prevalence of tooth decay, also known as early childhood caries, in children is down, it still remains a concern. Nearly one in five children under the age of 5 has experienced dental decay, according to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD). Almost half of kids aged 6-11 have had tooth decay, and more than half of those aged 12- 25 years old.
This entirely treatable disease starts with the parents at home. The points below will help parents pave the way toward a good oral health program that your young children will stick with for life.
Preventing Baby Bottle Tooth Decay
Just because infants don’t have teeth, doesn’t mean that they are not affected by dental health problems.
Failing to clean a baby’s mouth from the onset can lead to a painful, costly, and potentially life-threatening disease known as baby bottle tooth decay that can start as soon as the first tooth appears.
Causes of pediatric tooth decay
The main cause of this harmful disease is due to prolonged exposure of sugary liquids, including milk, formula, sugar water, and fruit juice. The sugars in these liquids cause the bacteria in their mouths to produce an acid that collects around their teeth and gums, initiating the decay.
Parents can also introduce their own bad bacteria to their child when they pass saliva sharing a spoon or allowing the child to use their toothbrush.
Preventing Baby Bottle Tooth Decay
Parents who practice exemplary oral hygiene on their own teeth will pass those habits on to their children. Further, by introducing good dental care from birth, the child won’t know anything differently.
- Wipe your child’s gums after meals using a damp washcloth or gauze pad starting from birth. Once the first tooth appears, you can start brushing your child’s teeth using a baby toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste the size of a grain of rice. Continue using this amount until they are three years old. From 3-6, increase to a pea-sized amount of toothpaste. Never give your child sports drinks, soft drinks or any other kind of sugary drinks.
- You can start flossing your child’s teeth once neighboring teeth sprout.
- Schedule your child’s first dental appointment by their first birthday or when they get their first tooth, whichever comes first.
- Never put your child to bed with a bottle containing milk, formula, juice, or any sugary liquids. Water only.
- Limit breastfeeding occurrences once the first tooth appears. Constant breastfeeding can stimulate the bacteria and acids in the mouth that cause decay. Do not allow your child to fall asleep while breastfeeding after the first tooth.
- Do not dip the pacifier in sugary substances like honey. Clean pacifiers with hot water and mild soap, rather than using your own saliva to do the job.
- Swap a real cup for the sippy cup by your child’s first birthday. Sippy cups encourage children to constantly sip on the liquids inside. Frequent drinking encourages the growth of acid, which leads to tooth decay. If your child is thirsty, offer them water in between meals and save the juice for mealtimes.
- Offer your child healthy snacks, like fruits and vegetables, cheese and yogurt. If your child eats a sweet, time it with a meal.
Signs of Tooth Decay in Children
One of the first signs of tooth decay in your child is white spots that appear along the gum line on the upper front teeth. These are nearly impossible to spot, however, which is why it is crucial to get your child to a dentist by their first birthday or when the first tooth appears. It can even be difficult for a dentist to see without the use of special equipment.
Why are Baby Teeth Important?
It may seem silly to take such good care of teeth that will only fall out eventually, so why the emphasis on quality care?
Baby teeth are placeholders in the jaw for the adult teeth. If a tooth is lost before it’s ready, then the remaining teeth may shift into that empty space. By the time the permanent teeth start to come in, there may not be a spot for them to do so, leading to crooked teeth that are difficult to clean.
Healthy baby teeth often mean healthy adult teeth. Children will be less likely to experience decay as they age and may require fewer dental and orthodontic procedures as they age.
If you have a newborn or have questions about caring for your child’s teeth, give Stout Dentistry a call today at 704.332.7737. Dr. Stout will help you form a plan for success to help put your child to healthy teeth for life.
Our Eastover Dental Practice
is conveniently located in Charlotte NC.
If you have been experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned in this article it may be time to see Dr. Stout. Schedule an appointment with Stout Dentistry. Give us a call today at 704.332.7737.