Infants and toddlers are not left out when it comes to tooth decay. Tooth decay is most common among infants and young children, and this teeth loss is often referred to as Baby Bottle Tooth Decay. This is also known as Early Children Caries. Baby teeth are not as strong as adult teeth and thus more susceptible to decay. This results due to bacteria buildup around babies’ teeth. Baby teeth are temporary, but that does not make them unimportant.
Babies need their teeth for multiple crucial and developmental milestones: to chew food, to speak with ease and speak clearly, to make funny noises, as well as to give their cute smiles. All this makes baby teeth pivotal for maximum oral and overall pediatric health. Their teeth also play the role of placeholders for permanent teeth. Cavity-free baby teeth are needed to create a healthy environment for permanent teeth. Baby bottle tooth decay can affect all parts of the teeth, but the central incisors on the upper line are usually damaged first.
The first molars are also damaged. Discomfort, midnight cries, sleepless nights, pain, and infection usually result when the decay is left untreated. In severe cases of tooth decay, the teeth may have to be extracted. It may also lead to poor eating habits, problems associated with speech, crooked teeth, and damaged adult teeth as well. Early childhood caries can transition from baby teeth to adult teeth, all the more reason why it has to be treated once it has been detected. Baby bottle tooth decay can also be prevented. But what actually causes this tooth decay?
Causes of Baby Bottle Tooth Decay
Interactivity between cavity-causing bacteria and other components in the saliva causes the development of Early Childhood Caries. Sugar creates an optimal environment for bacteria to thrive inside the teeth cavities. Thereafter, the harmful bacteria produce acids that gradually destroy the teeth enamel.
Baby teeth enamel is thinner than that of permanent teeth that make it easier for them to get eroded. An eroded enamel places a child at a greater risk of decay. Sweetened pacifiers, sugar, soft drinks, fruit juices, milk, and other formulas, as well as snacks, often given to infants and young children, contain the one component that poses a danger to their oral health — sugar.
The tooth decay occurs when these liquids, which contain sugar, cling to infants’ teeth for a long time. Parents also make the mistake of giving their infants sugary drinks before naptime or before night time. Why is this dangerous in particular? That is because, during sleep, the flow of saliva is reduced, as the child swallows less often. This makes the sugary liquids stick to the teeth even more and gives time to the bacteria that produce acids that cause decay.
Rampant baby bottle use also plays a significant role in teeth decay. Excessive interaction between a child’s teeth and sugary drinks given in the baby bottle increases the chances of bacteria production, which in turn leads to tooth decay.
Symptoms of Baby Bottle Tooth Decay
Decay can appear as dark or brown discoloration on the teeth, but this is a severe symptom in the advanced phase of baby bottle tooth decay. Decay affects the upper incisors or upper front teeth, and this makes decay observable. As the decay deteriorates, it leaves holes in the teeth, pain is usually inevitable, and the child may experience swelling around the teeth.
White spots on the surface of teeth or the gum line is an early sign of tooth decay. The teeth become very sensitive, and the decay may lead to bad breath, bleeding and fever. As soon as you notice these symptoms, it is advisable to see a doctor to avoid further complications.
Symptoms and stages of Baby bottle tooth decay vary so does the treatment. It is best to visit a pediatric dentist to discuss the best treatment for your child if he/she is suffering from this disease. But rest assured, the effects of this kind of cavities can be reversed.
Prevention of Baby Bottle Tooth Decay
The good news is that Baby Bottle Tooth Decay can be prevented. You can stop the decay before it starts. Limit the amount of sugar given to the child. Reduce snacks and drinks with sugar to a minimum. Gummy vitamins can also stick to the child’s teeth, so avoid giving them it to eat.
Putting a baby to sleep with a bottle that contains sugary liquids should be never encouraged. Never allow a baby to go to bed with a bottle that contains milk, sweetened pacifier, fruit juice, or other formulas. If a baby must go to bed with anything, it has to be a bottle that contains water; one that has no sugar at all.
It may have become a habit to put a child to sleep with a bottle that contains milk or sugar water. However, this habit can be broken. Gradually mix the bottle contents with water over two to three weeks, this makes the liquids less sugary. Once this has been carried out for the stipulated time, fill the bottle with only water.
A mother may transfer bacteria from her mouth to the baby’s through spoon-sharing; sharing of saliva with the baby through feeding spoons or licking pacifiers should be avoided. Even before the first tooth comes out, babies’ mouths should be cleaned regularly.
Cleaning infants’ teeth and gums with a clean gauze pad or washcloth goes a long way in preventing decay. Children’s teeth should be brushed with only water when they first come in. Before moving on to using fluoride paste, consultation with a dentist is a must.
Fluoride helps to eliminate harmful bacteria and thus helps to reduce the chances of teeth decay to a minimum. A healthy amount of fluoride helps to protect the enamel from these harmful bacteria. Nevertheless, it is best to visit the doctor for a pediatric fluoride treatment. Dentists may also recommend and even provide special sealant coatings.
Dental sealant coatings help in protecting the teeth from decay. They are safe and effective. A visit to the dentist a few months after the first tooth comes in will also help. This way, the dentist can make sure that your child’s teeth are in good health. Healthy eating and drinking habits should be practiced. It is important to always have in mind that healthy baby teeth lead to healthy adult teeth.
Your child’s oral health is very important, and it is your duty as a parent to take care of them at this tender age. You can visit a toddler dentist in Weston today to learn more about the teeth of your child and its care.