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28Jul
2014
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Childhood Tooth Decay

Early Childhood Tooth Decay Prevention

Early childhood tooth decay often occurs in the upper and lower front teeth, and it can be a serious problem. Some parents may think childhood tooth decay is inevitable, but in fact it can often be prevented. There is also a common misconception that these teeth are not particularly important as they are soon replaced with permanent teeth. This is completely wrong as your child needs to have strong and healthy milk teeth.

These teeth help your child to chew food properly, ensuring they can benefit from eating a wide range of foods that will provide them with the proper nutrition required for growth and development. In addition, these teeth help hold open enough space in the upper or lower jaw so the adult teeth can come through straight and correctly aligned. When these teeth are lost too soon it can create a number of orthodontic problems, and may mean your pediatric dentist has to take action to try to keep these spaces open and to prevent the remaining milk teeth from moving and shifting position. So what factors can increase the risk of early childhood tooth decay and how is this condition best prevented?

Tooth decay occurs when the teeth come into contact with excess sugar. This enables bacteria in the mouth to thrive and multiply, and as they do so they produce acid that cause the teeth to decay. Many popular drinks contain sugar, including fruit juices, milk and formula. Allowing your child to eat sugary snacks increases this risk. It’s also important to take into account the number of times your child eats or drinks sugary foods, and the amount of time these sugars remain on their teeth.

If you let your child walk around or go to sleep with a bottle or sippy cup that contains sugary liquids then it’s likely their teeth will be exposed to sugars for a longer period of time, greatly increasing the risk of tooth decay. The healthiest food for young babies’ teeth is breast milk as this tends to slow down bacterial growth, but if breast milk is given in conjunction with other sugary foods or drinks then the rate of tooth decay can be quicker than if the child were only given sugary foods.

Top tips for preventing tooth decay

  • Make sure you put your child to bed with a bottle of water rather than sugary juices, milk or other drinks
  • Remove the bottle as soon as your child has fallen asleep
  • If your child uses a pacifier, don’t dip it in sugary syrup or honey
  • Try to get your child used to drinking from a cup as early as possible, and try to stop using a bottle by the time they are aged 12 to 14 months
  • If you want to give them some juice then limit the amount to 6 fluid ounces per day and provide it as part of a meal
  • After your child has finished feeding gently wipe their gums with a clean piece of gauze to help remove plaque
  • Begin a twice-daily tooth brushing routine as soon as their teeth erupt

You’ll find all the dental team is more than willing to offer practical advice and help on looking after your child’s teeth. Please ask us if you have any questions.

 

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