Baby Bottle Tooth Decay
Baby teeth, also called primary teeth, can develop cavities just like permanent teeth. One condition that we see frequently as pediatric dentists is a condition called early childhood caries, commonly known as baby bottle tooth decay. The informal name is derived from the cause of the caries, which is allowing infants and toddlers to fall asleep with a bottle of juice, sugar water or even soda. However, these drinks can also result in decay if they are given to the child during waking hours. The best course of action is to give the child only plain water, breast milk or formula in a bottle, and at bedtime, allow only water.
Missing or Damaged Primary Teeth
Some parents wonder why it is important for the child to retain his or her baby teeth for the appropriate period. They reason that the primary teeth will be lost in a few years and that it is only important to make sure that the permanent teeth are kept in good health. However, baby teeth play an important role in the future dental health of the child and should therefore receive proper care.
One of the most critical roles played by baby teeth is that of “space holder” for the adult teeth. It takes time for the permanent teeth to develop beneath the gums. When baby teeth are lost prematurely, the adult teeth have much more leeway to shift out of alignment before they ever erupt. The permanent teeth can come in crooked, which can result in crowding of the teeth that follow.
It is also possible for a baby tooth with a cavity to become infected. This is not only potentially painful for the child, but the infection can also spread to other teeth. Oral infections have been linked to an increase in the risk of childhood asthma as well as to other health problems.
Parents’ Role in the Child’s Dental Health
As much as we would welcome a “magic wand” that we could use in our office to safeguard your child’s teeth, we do not have one. Ensuring your child’s future dental health is a partnership between your home and our office.
Caring for your child’s oral health should begin — at minimum — as soon as the first tooth breaks through the gum. Even before your child has his or her first tooth, you should clean the baby’s gums very gently after feedings. Use a damp, sanitary, soft cloth to clean the gums, or use a soft-bristled “baby toothbrush.” Wait until the child has his first tooth before using toothpaste, and then use only a very small dab.
Encouraging good dental habits in your child is important. You might need to supervise brushings until the child is six or seven years old. You might also want to talk with your child about the relationship between good dental care, such as proper brushing and limiting sweets, and an attractive smile that can last for a lifetime.
Allow Us to Help
Our practice is devoted to pediatric dentistry, so our staff members have the training and experience to make your child’s visit a pleasant one. We use the latest technologies, products and techniques to help you make sure that your child’s teeth will be strong and beautiful into adulthood and far beyond.
If you would schedule an appointment with us around the time of your child’s first birthday, we can conduct an examination of his or her dental health. This is an excellent opportunity for your child to become comfortable with our staff and environment.
We offer emergency services should your child ever need immediate attention. Whether your child needs cosmetic pediatric dentistry, routine cleanings and care, restorative care or preventive treatments, our caring staff can help. Your child’s dental health is our first priority!
Kids Dental Specialists proudly serves families in the Chino/Chino Hills, CA area. Visit our Appointment page or call us at 909-591-0077 to schedule your next appointment.