Preventing Tooth Decay In Baby Teeth
As your child’s baby teeth (also known as “primary teeth”) begin to come in, proper care must be taken to ensure that these new teeth are protected. Baby teeth aren’t just “starter” teeth which allow your baby to chew solid foods. Baby teeth are important because they hold a space in the jaw for the adult teeth, which allows the adult teeth to erupt into the mouth in proper alignment, rather than crooked or crowded. Baby tooth decay (also known as baby bottle tooth decay or early childhood carries) generally first appears in the upper front teeth, but can occur anywhere in the mouth. Symptoms of baby tooth decay include white spots on the teeth, or sensitivity to sweets or cold. If you notice any of these symptoms, contact Dr. Kotre as soon as possible so she can examine your child’s teeth, and provide appropriate treatment in order to prevent further damage from occurring. Many parents are unaware that baby teeth are at risk for tooth decay as soon as they appear. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to keep your baby’s teeth from becoming damaged: 1. Make sure your baby isn’t allowed to walk around with a bottle of anything other than water. 2. Do not put your child to bed with a bottle.
3. Do not share utensils or straws with your baby or child, or clean their pacifier in your mouth. Tooth decay is a disease that begins with cavity-causing bacteria being passed from the primary caregiver, who has these bacteria in their mouth, to the infant. 4. Do not dip pacifiers in sugar or honey, as this provides food for decay-causing bacteria, allowing them to multiply. 5. Do not use a bottle as a pacifier. 6. If your baby’s teeth have not yet come in, gently wipe his or her gums with a soft washcloth to remove food and/or plaque after each feeding or meal. After teeth begin to come in, you can continue using a soft washcloth or switch to a baby toothbrush. Using just water is fine up until a year old, but you may also speak with Dr. Kotre about an infant-appropriate toothpaste, such as MI Paste, which is available at our office. 7. Begin teaching your child proper oral care as early as possible, but continue to brush his or her teeth yourself until six years of age to ensure a thorough cleaning. 8. Limit sweets, including fruit and especially fruit juice, which are major sources of sugar.
9. Encourage your baby to use a real cup, rather than a sippy cup, by their first birthday. 10. Be sure to schedule your child’s first dental check up with Dr. Kotre by their first birthday, or within 6 months of their first tooth eruption, so she can check for anything that may be an issue.