How to prevent tooth decay in babies?

How to prevent tooth decay in babies?

Did you know, babies' mouth also need much care and attention right from when they have their first tooth? Baby teeth are very important; if the baby teeth are lost too early, the teeth that are left may get misaligned and may not leave any room for adult teeth to come in. Also, if tooth decay is not treated well, it can cause pain and lead to life-threatening infections.

Tooth decay (called early childhood caries) is one of the most common diseases of childhood. It is essential to begin healthy dental habits early as tooth decay can develop as soon as the first tooth comes in. 

Causes of Tooth Decay in Babies

Tooth decay develops when acid-producing bacteria infect a baby's mouth. This bacteria can be passed on to babies from parents and caregivers. For example, the bacteria is spread by sharing saliva on spoons or cups, testing foods before feeding them to babies and cleaning off a pacifier in the parent's or caregiver's mouth. 

Exposing the child's teeth and gums to any liquid or food other than water for long periods can also result in tooth decay.  The sugars present in the liquid or food are changed to acid by bacteria in the mouth, and this acid can dissolve the enamel of the teeth, causing them to decay. 

Signs of Tooth Decay in Babies

The first signs of tooth decay are white spots at the gum line on the upper front teeth, which are hardly visible without proper equipment. Therefore, it is essential to have your child's teeth examined by a pediatric dentist at least twice a year to stop the decay from spreading and prevent further damage. 

How to Prevent Tooth Decay in Babies

The following steps can help to prevent tooth decay in babies: 

  • It is important to take good care of the mother's own oral health before the baby is born. 
  • Take good care of your baby's teeth, whether you choose to breastfeed or bottle-feed your baby.
  • Even before your baby has their first tooth, keep your baby's mouth clean by gently wiping the gums with a clean washcloth. Once the first tooth erupts, start brushing them gently using a soft baby toothbrush and a smear of fluoride toothpaste.
  • Once your baby turns 12 months, start brushing their teeth two times per day for 2 minutes using a smear of fluoride toothpaste. 
  • Don't put your baby to bed with a bottle or food as this can expose his/her teeth to sugars.
  • If your child needs to have a bottle or sippy cup for long periods, fill it with water only. 
  • Never let your baby use a bottle or sippy cup as a pacifier. 
  • Check to see if your water is fluoridated. If your tap water doesn't have enough fluoride, your child's dentist may prescribe a fluoride supplement.
  • Limit the number of candies, sweet or sticky foods your child eats.
  • Visit your child's dentist before the age of 1.  If you have concerns, you can visit the dentist even before that.

Talk with your child's dentist if you see any sign of decay in your child's teeth or if you have doubts about your child's teeth. With the right and proper care, your child can grow up to have healthy teeth for a lifetime of smiles. 

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