Small children can develop dangerous tooth decay and other important oral diseases early in life if parents aren’t careful enough. Generally parents think that since baby teeth (primary teeth) are going to be replaced there isn’t a good reason to take care of the child oral hygiene. In fact it’s not true because keeping a child’s teeth healthy is important for his overall health. Baby teeth are important not only for chewing and speaking, but they are important for their future craniofacial growth of the child and for his psychological well being.
Yes for a kid is as important as for an adult to have a beautiful smile. Children are very sensitive and its important that they doesn’t feel inferior to their friends. Also keeping deciduous teeth healthy you prevent your child’s need for invasive orthodontic treatment in the future.
The exact time for a parent to start taking care of the child’s teeth is when he is around 6 months old and the first inferior teeth are appearing.
Baby bottle syndrome also called baby bottle tooth decay, childhood caries, nursing caries or nursing bottle syndrome occurs usually on the superior frontal teeth but it can destroy all teeth. The decay cavities look like dark pits, holes or broken teeth that can cause severe toothache. Having all these decays can be very painful for the child because decay progresses very quickly on baby teeth and goes directly to the pulp causing the excruciating pain of a toothache. Sometimes the decay can be so severe that your dentist can do nothing and all baby teeth need to be extracted causing physical and psychological trauma for the child.
Decay on primary teeth is caused by the same factors as in adults. You can read our previous article if you want to know more: Tooth Decay Causes. Baby bottle syndrome’s most important cause is the prolonged exposure of the baby’s teeth to sugar in a solid form or liquid form. Very often young mothers put their babies to sleep at night with the bottle filled with sugared milk, sugared fruit juice or use honey or sugar on the pacifier. These are one of the worst habits, because this way the child stays in contact with sugar all night long. During the night the salivary flux diminishes so it creates the perfect environment for the bacteria to feed with the sugar and creating an acid environment that demineralizes teeth. Primary teeth enamel is more sensible to the acid environment than the adult enamel. The decay spreads on all frontal teeth that stay in contact with the sugared pacifier, but it can spread on the molars too.
The good news is that tooth decay can be prevented.
Following these tips below you will help your kid’s growth:
• Avoid saliva exchange like with the feeding spoons. Also is important for the mother or the caregiver of the baby to have a good oral hygiene to prevent the infection of the baby with the decay causing bacteria.
• After every feeding clean the baby’s gums with a wet gauze pad. This is important to remove dental plaque that can cause decay on the erupting teeth.
• As soon as the teeth start erupting make sure to brush them gently with a soft toothbrush for kids and water. Don’t use toothpaste because the child will swallow.
• Usually after the baby is 2 years old and he is capable to spit and not to swallow the toothpaste you can start brushing his teeth with a pea sized amount of toothpaste and a small toothbrush. Generally is better to use a fluoride toothpaste but you can talk with your dentist about the child’s need for fluoride
• Never place sugared milk, juice or drinks on the bottle. Place only milk, or breast milk. And if the baby is thirsty don’t use soft drinks but only water.
• Don’t dip the pacifier on honey or sugar. And if your kid is already used to that, try to remove the habit and use something else to calm the baby down before sleeping.
• Infants should finish the bottle before going to bed giving you the time to clean his gums before sleeping.
• After the age of 5 or 6 you can count on the child to take care of his own oral hygiene. The only thing to do is to teach him the right way.
• Make sure to encourage healthy eating habits, like never eating chocolate or candies before bed time. Limit sweets to meal times not in between.
• Make sure that your child takes the adequate quantity of fluoride. Talk to your pediatrician or dentist about that.
As we said earlier is better to prevent than to treat. So make sure to schedule your baby for regular dental visits. It will help the child getting to know the dentist and not being afraid of him. So later in life if needs to get dental treatment he is prepared. Is very important to have an easy first dental visit. Because if the first time that child sees the dentist has to extract a tooth or has to receive painful treatment he will never get throw the fear. If the decay is already progressive than you should take your baby urgently to the dentist and together decide how to proceed with the treatment.