Parents are often shocked to learn that their toddler already has cavities. Many parents wonder how that could happen to a child who is only 3 or 4 years old? Genetics and other factors can play a big role, but more often then not, it’s due to what many Dentists refer to as: Baby Bottle Tooth Decay.
Baby Bottle Tooth Decay is most common in a child’s upper front teeth. The most common causes are:
- Prolonged exposure of the baby’s teeth to beverages that contain sugar (such as fruit juice, chocolate milk or soft drinks).
- The transfer of cavity-causing bacteria from the mother/father (or primary caregiver) to the infant. The most common example is a parent cleaning a baby’s feeding spoon or pacifier by putting it in their mouth and then transferring it back to the child.
- The child is not receiving an adequate amount of fluoride.
The good news is that Baby Bottle Tooth Decay is entirely preventable. Here are some helpful tips:
- Place only formula, milk or breastmilk in bottles. Avoid filling the bottle with other liquids such as juice, chocolate milk or soft drinks.
- Avoid putting an infant to bed with a bottle or using the bottle as a pacifier to settle a fussy baby.
- Do not to share saliva with a baby through common use of feeding spoons or by cleaning the child’s pacifier in your own mouth.
- Encourage your child to start drinking with a cup by his/her first birthday.
- For children 3 & under, brush their teeth gently with a child-size toothbrush and a grain-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste.
- For children 3-6, use a child-size toothbrush and a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste.
- Supervise your child’s brushing until he/she can be trusted not to swallow the toothpaste (usually not until he/she is at least 6 years old).
- Encourage healthy eating habits.
Remember, your child needs strong, healthy teeth to chew their food, develop speech and have a confident, bright smile. Consider talking to your dentist about a visit when your child’s first tooth appears. Starting your children with effective oral care is the key to a lifetime of good dental health. For more information about your child’s oral health, please contact our office to schedule your appointment with Dr.Jennifer Thomm at Great Lakes Dental.