Preventing Baby Bottle Tooth Decay
Baby bottle tooth decay, or bottle mouth, is the name given to this common early childhood dental condition. Decay is caused by frequent and long exposures of an infant’s teeth to liquids that contain sugar. These liquids can include milk, breast milk, formula, fruit juice, sodas, sports drinks and other sweetened beverages. The symptoms vary, but often the child doesn’t eat or sleep well, wakes up for no apparent reason and cries frequently. The child is in pain.
Why You Should Bother with Baby Teeth
Baby teeth may be tiny, but they sure are mighty. Your child’s baby teeth actually set the stage for their future oral development, and taking care of them will help set the foundation for your child’s long-term oral health.
What is the purpose of primary, or baby teeth?
Aside from being cute, baby teeth actually play a big role in your child’s overall health. Baby teeth help the child chew, speak and smile. That means they contribute to your child’s nutrition, speech development and social development.
When do baby teeth arrive?
Your child’s primary, or baby teeth, are already present in the jaws at birth. They typically begin to erupt through the gums between 6 months and 1 year of age. Most children will have a full set of 20 primary teeth by the time they are 3! That’s a lot of teeth in such a small mouth! And that’s why taking care of those teeth is so important.
What happens if I don’t take care of my child’s baby teeth?
When baby teeth are not cared for properly, by regular brushing and flossing, the child may develop cavities and/or painful abscesses. When a child has pain in their mouth, they are less likely to eat nutritious meals. They may also have a harder time playing, focusing and learning if they are in pain.
Severe dental decay on a child’s primary teeth can cause damage to the permanent teeth below if a dental abscess spreads below the baby tooth to the permanent tooth.
What happens if a baby tooth has to be extracted early (due to dental caries and decay)?
Many people think that if a baby tooth gets a cavity, it’s no big deal to just take it out and wait for the adult tooth to come in. This may not seem like a big deal, but remember, baby teeth play a major role in your child’s oral development! When a primary tooth is lost too early, the permanent teeth underneath can begin to drift into the wrong space, causing adult teeth to come in crooked or crowded and leading to more orthodontic needs. This is why a pediatric dentist will often try to save the baby tooth, rather than extract it.
How can you take care of your child’s primary teeth?
Taking care of your child’s baby teeth doesn’t have to be hard. For infants, begin wiping their gums with a soft wash cloth within a few days after birth. As soon as the first tooth appears, it’s time to start brushing.
Aim to brush the tooth, or teeth, with an appropriately sized toothbrush twice a day. When two teeth are close enough to touch, they need to be flossed at least several times a week to prevent sugar and food from getting trapped between the tight spaces.
The earlier you begin practicing dental hygiene with your infant, the easier it will be and the smoother their first dental visit will go!
When should your child see the dentist?
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentists recommends every child be seen by a dentist by age 1 or within six months after the first tooth erupts.
Anderson Pediatric Dentistry seeks to help you and your child achieve superior dental health. Our Anderson Pediatric Dentist team strives to provide top-quality dental care in a nurturing and fun environment. Going to the dentist doesn’t have to be scary and having a beautiful smile doesn’t have to be hard. From routine check-ups to dental sealants, cleanings to x-rays, we can take care of all your child’s dental needs. If you are looking for a dental home in the Anderson County or Upstate South Carolina area, call our office to at 760-864-1440 and let us give you Something to Smile About!
This week, all across America, families and friends will celebrate Thanksgiving. People will reflect on their blessings, spend time with family, eat delicious food, watch football and brush their teeth! Okay, so maybe brushing your teeth doesn’t immediately come to mind when you think of Thanksgiving traditions, but what else would you expect from your Anderson Pediatric Dentist?
Besides, maybe if the Pilgrims had been more concerned about their oral healthcare on their voyage to the Americas, they wouldn’t have arrived with so many cavities! While the Pilgrims may have been brave explorers, their oral hygiene probably wasn’t up to par.
Life on the ship came with many hardships. Food wasn’t readily available, nor was it able to be refrigerated or microwaved. The Pilgrim’s journey lasted 68 days, meaning that the food on the ship had to be preserved and able to last for the duration of the journey. Their diets consisted of primarily salted dried meat, dried fruit and dried biscuits and crackers- all things that stick to your teeth and feed cavity-causing bacteria. Unlike people today, the sailors on the Mayflower didn’t have the luxury of dental sealants to help prevent cavities!
In addition to limited food choices, clean water was not readily available, leaving beer and wine as the primary beverages of choice. Acidic wine not only stains your teeth, but over time, it can eat away at the enamel.
Of course, none of this would have mattered too much, if they were brushing and flossing each day. However, it’s most likely that most of the passengers on the Mayflower would not have had a standard toothbrush. At the time of the Mayflower’s voyage, toothbrushes were not yet readily available to the masses. They were usually made with bone handles and boar’s hair bristles, and generally owned by the wealthier members of society. Most of the passengers on the Mayflower would not have owned a toothbrush.
So, aside from the storms they encountered on the ocean, the living conditions and lack of oral hygiene produced a perfect storm for dental decay and caries!
Perhaps the Native Americans taught the Pilgrims about more than agriculture and farming. In contrast to the Pilgrims, the Indians had a much healthier and mouth-friendly diet, consisting primarily of fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts and meats.
Native Americans also cleaned their teeth using chewsticks made with twigs that were frayed on one end for brushing and sharpened on the other end for use as a toothpick. Native Americans chewed fresh herbs to clean and freshen their mouths, as well as pine needles to clean debris from their teeth.
It appears that the Native Americans actually had pretty good oral health! This Thanksgiving, be thankful for your teeth. Show your mouth some appreciation by eating lots of fresh vegetables, fruits and nuts. Be sure to brush twice a day and floss, too!
Anderson Pediatric Dentistry wishes you and your family a very Happy Thanksgiving. We are thankful for our wonderful patients and the opportunity we have to educate and impact families in Anderson, SC and the Upstate area. If you are looking for a dental home for your child, we welcome you! Give us a call at 864-760-8440 and let us give you and your child Something to Smile About!
Check out out website for more helpful resources: www.andersonpediatricdentistry.com
We hear it all the time. Do baby teeth even matter?
Yes! Yes, yes, yes, yes and yes! Baby teeth matter and we are going to tell you exactly why these little teeth are so important.
Your child’s primary teeth, often called their baby teeth, play a major role in their growth and development. We aren’t just talking about their oral health, here. We are talking about their overall, full-body, lifelong development and health.
Baby teeth help your child eat and chew. They allow your child to eat a more balanced and varied diet, enabling them to receive the proper nutrition they need to grow and develop, both physically and mentally. Without teeth, the child cannot eat all solid foods and will not be able to break it down sufficiently for the body to absorb all the nutrients.
Your child’s baby teeth aren’t just for cuteness. They actually help your child’s speech. The teeth play an important role in speech development and aiding the child in learning to form certain letter sounds. The tongue, lips and cheeks deflect off teeth when forming sounds. When teeth are not there, they cannot assist in the formation of the correct pronunciation of sounds, possibly leading to speech impediments.
Who doesn’t love seeing a baby smile with just two front teeth? Those small little teeth are actually paving the way for your child’s permanent smile. Baby teeth take up space in the mouth and act as space holders in the jaw bone for permanent teeth that are growing under the gums. When a baby tooth is lost too early, or has to be removed because of decay, the permanent teeth can drift into the empty spaces, making it difficult for other adult teeth to find room when they come in. This can lead to more crooked teeth and more costly orthodontic treatment later on.
The tooth structure provides support for the child’s developing facial muscles, giving shape to your child’s face.
Focus and Attention:
A child in pain cannot focus on learning, playing and exploring the world. Dental pain from a decaying tooth can interfere with their ability to pay attention in school, can cause them to miss more school, and can affect their academic performance and grades.
Decayed teeth can greatly affect a child’s self-esteem as it affects their social interactions with peers at school or in other social settings. A child that is embarrassed by their teeth may be hesitant to speak and engage with peers, may not want to smile and may have a harder time interacting with others. This can all lead to less confidence and lower self-esteem.
Check out this video from the ADA on why baby teeth are so important: Watch Video
As parents, it’s our job to help our children be happy and successful. Taking care of their baby teeth is an important part of helping them thrive! So, what can you do to care for your child’s primary teeth?
- Teach your child to develop good oral health care habits with their primary (baby) teeth. These early habits will help them keep those permanent teeth healthy for life!
- Limit juice and sugary drinks. Make water the beverage of choice.
- Do not put anything other than milk or water in a bottle.
- For infants, begin cleaning their mouth during the first few days after birth. Wipe gums with a clean, moist washcloth. Decay can occur as soon as teeth erupt, so start taking care of baby teeth as soon as you see them!
- For young children, start brushing teeth as soon as they come into the mouth. Brush twice a day, using a small amount of toothpaste- about the size of a grain of rice.
- As children get older, you should continue to supervise brushing, using a fluoride toothpaste and reminding them not to swallow toothpaste.
- As soon as two of the teeth begin to touch, you should begin cleaning between the teeth daily, using floss.
- Continue to supervise your child’s brushing until they can effectively brush alone, usually around 7-8 years old.
- Begin seeing a pediatric dentist before your child’s first birthday. Ideally, you should see your pediatric dentist for a check-up as soon as the first tooth arrives so that they can monitor the development, check for any problems and educate you on proper oral hygiene for your child.
If you are looking for a pediatric dental home for your infant, toddler or child, Anderson Pediatric Dentistry is here for you. As your local Anderson, SC pediatric dentist, we strive to offer our patients and their parents the best quality pediatric dental care in a safe and loving environment. We offer sealants, x-rays, laser dentistry, lip-tie and tongue-tie treatments, as well as emergency dental care and special needs dentistry. Give us a call at 864-760-1440 and let us give you Something to Smile About!
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