Early Childhood Tooth Decay and How to Prevent It
Early childhood tooth decay in very young infants and children is often called baby bottle tooth decay. This can develop when babies and very young children are given sweetened liquids to drink over a long period of time or even overnight. These include liquids that contain natural sugars such as fruit juice, milk and formula and the sugars can cling to their teeth for a very long time. The problem with this is that it enables bacteria in the mouth to use the sugars for energy, creating acid that attacks the tooth enamel, weakening it and increasing the risk of tooth decay.
Who Is at Risk of Early Childhood Tooth Decay?
Children who are particularly at risk of early childhood tooth decay include those who are given a sugary drink at naptime or night time, or those who use a pacifier that may have been dipped in honey or syrup to increase its appeal. Giving a child a sugary drink just before they go to sleep is particularly harmful as the mouth produces less saliva during sleep. Saliva is a very protective substance, reducing acidity in the mouth and helping to wash away excess sugars. Baby bottle tooth decay or early childhood tooth decay typically affects the front teeth that are immediately exposed to sugars, but it may affect any tooth in a child’s mouth.
Don’t Think a Child’s Primary Teeth Are Important? Think Again
Unfortunately here at the Kids Dentistry Center we do see a lot of parents and caregivers who aren’t aware of the importance of their child’s milk teeth. There is a common misconception that as these teeth are temporary they don’t really matter. The most vital thing to remember is that tooth decay can be painful regardless of age, particularly if teeth become badly infected and need to be removed. In fact early childhood tooth decay can cause multiple problems.
Why Baby Teeth Matter
If your child’s teeth become infected and need to be removed then they may have difficulty eating properly. Poor nutrition can affect their development as they might not be able to obtain all the nutrients they need to grow properly. Baby teeth also act as placeholders for adult teeth, holding open just the right amount of space so adult teeth can erupt normally. When they are lost too soon there is far more risk that the adult teeth will come through crooked and will require orthodontic treatment. In addition, early loss of teeth can make it very difficult for a child to learn to speak clearly and not being able to make yourself understood can be extremely frustrating.
Prevention Is Simple
Preventing early childhood tooth decay is a simple and you’ll find Dr. Marina Krepkh or any of our excellent pediatric dentists can show you the correct way to look after your child’s teeth at home, including how to brush and floss correctly while causing minimal stress to you both. We can also chat to you about how much toothpaste you should be using, including when to begin using fluoride toothpaste to protect your child’s teeth. Regular visits to our dental office will help keep your child’s teeth strong and healthy. We also offer additional treatments such as dental sealants to help prevent tooth decay in children, as well as fluoride treatments to help harden their tooth enamel.
Kids Best Dentist Brooklyn NYC
Dr. Marina Krepkh
7708 4th Avenue 1st floor
Brooklyn, NY 11209 (Bay Ridge)