Protecting your child’s baby teeth from decay can set the foundation for a lifetime of good oral health. Although baby teeth are temporary, they are important for learning to chew, developing speech and ensuring that permanent teeth come in properly.
Causes of Childhood Tooth Decay
Most children receive the bacteria that causes tooth decay from their mother or primary caregiver. The bacteria are transmitted through the saliva when the mother or caregiver shares a drink or eating utensil with the child. Bottle tooth decay is another common cause of cavities in infants and toddlers. This type of tooth decay most often affects the upper front teeth and usually occurs when the child’s baby teeth are subjected to frequent and prolonged exposure to sugary drinks. Bottle tooth decay can also occur when a child is put to sleep with a bottle. Children in communities without fluoridated water are more susceptible to tooth decay.
Preventing Childhood Tooth Decay
Childhood tooth decay is almost always preventable through good oral care and healthy habits.
- Try to avoid sharing saliva through the common use of eating utensils.
- Never put infants or toddlers to bed with a bottle.
- Only fill bottles with milk, breast milk, formula or water. Avoid giving infants and toddlers soft drinks, juice or sugar water.
- Try to transition your child to drinking from a cup by their first birthday.
- Start brushing your child’s teeth as soon as they come in. You should use a grain-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste up to age 3 and a pea-sized amount from the ages of 3 to 6.
The American Dental Association encourages parents to talk to their dentist about a checkup as soon as their child’s first tooth appears. Dr. Ignatowicz and his staff are dedicated to helping families enjoy a lifetime of better oral health. Contact us today to schedule a checkup for your child.