Poway and Rancho Bernardo, CA
Many people do not associate dental cavities with babies or toddlers. But, the fact of the matter is that these youngsters are susceptible to tooth decay, and here’s how. Babies often are formula-fed via a baby bottle, and it isn’t uncommon for a baby to go to sleep with said bottle, hence the coined term ‘baby-bottle tooth decay.’ Same with toddlers, although they are likely to drink regular milk or juice from a sippy cup while drifting off into la-la land. These behaviors increase a child’s risk of developing tooth decay, even in their baby teeth.
Baby-bottle tooth decay can easily be prevented, which is what family dentist in Poway, Dr. Nicol Cook, would like to share with you today.
First, let’s take a look at how cavities form so that you can gain an understanding of the process, and why prevention is key.
Cavities form as a result of an acidic environment in the mouth. Sugar fuels the cavity-causing bacteria, which, in turn, causes the bacteria to secrete acids. It’s a combination of the sugars that are present in what we eat and drink, along with the secreted acids that erode dental enamel, making it susceptible to decay and cavities. While dental enamel is known to the be strongest substances in the human body, it isn’t completely resistant to damage.
When a child sips on a bottle or sippy cup filled with a sugary beverage, either throughout the day or when going to sleep at night, they are constantly bathing their teeth in sugar, fueling those cavity-causing bacteria. Ideally, the child would have his or her teeth brushed after consuming the contents of their bottle or cup, but often that isn’t the case because parents and guardians alike aren’t aware that baby teeth matter a whole lot.
Here’s why your child’s baby teeth matter
Baby teeth are part of a child’s development, from learning to eat solid foods to learning to articulate their words, and more, baby teeth are important for each child’s overall health. Plus, tooth decay is an active infection, and no parent would want their child to go around with an infection anywhere else in their body, so their teeth shouldn’t be treated any differently in that regard.
Tips to prevent cavities in your young child include:
- Encourage use of a pacifier if your child wants to suck on a bottle or sippy cup for comfort.
- Offer water between meals, and limit juice and milk to mealtimes only.
- Everyone should use their own eating utensils, avoid sharing as this spreads oral bacteria.
- Limit your child’s intake of juice to no more than four ounces a day.
- Make sure that your child finishes his or her bottle/sippy cup before bed so that you can thoroughly clean their teeth to remove any sugars and acids left behind.
- Clean your child’s teeth and gums daily using age-appropriate oral hygiene utensils.
Dr. Cook encourages good oral hygiene habits in all of her patients, even young children. As the parent, it is your responsibility to ensure your child follows through with these healthy habits. Dr. Cook also offers dental services to children of all ages. To find out more, please contact Smiles by Dr. Cook today, or call (858) 673-0141. We welcome patients of Poway and Rancho Bernardo, California.