Parents are surprised when dentist tells them that their infants can develop tooth decay and cavities after appearance of teeth. This is because they think infants are not prone to tooth decay and cavities. Most of the infants facing oral issues are victim of baby bottle tooth decay. Baby bottle tooth decay is caused by the continuing exposure to liquids containing sugars like milk, formula, and fruit juice.
Child’s oral care actually starts with mother’s healthy pregnancy, because baby teeth begin to form before birth. Pregnant mothers should make sure to eat a balanced, nutritious diet and get a sufficient amount of vitamins and minerals. It is vital for pregnant women to have a complete dental examination and have any cavities or gum disease treated.
Child’s first teeth, called Primary Teeth, usually begin to erupt through the gum at about 6 months of age. All of the primary teeth should come in between the ages of 6 months and 3 years. Teething can lead to intermittent localized discomfort in the area of erupting primary teeth, irritability, and excessive salivation; however, many children have no apparent difficulties. Treatment of symptoms includes oral analgesics and chilled rings for the child to gum. Use of topical anesthetics to relieve discomfort is discouraged due to potential toxicity of these products in infants. Every infant should receive an oral health risk assessment by six months of age. This initial assessment should evaluate the risk of developing oral diseases of soft and hard tissues, including caries-risk assessment and evaluate and optimize fluoride exposure
Basic things about infant oral care
It’s best to start good oral health habits before permanent teeth come in.
- Regularly clean your baby’s gums with a soft cloth or gauze pad to remove plaque.
- Parents and caregivers often share spoons, forks, and other utensils with babies. The saliva you may leave on the utensil contains bacteria that can cause tooth decay. Sometimes, kissing can also transfer bacteria. Keeping your own teeth and gums healthy reduces the risk of transferring tooth decay bacteria to your child.
- Do not put your infant or small child to bed with a bottle of milk, formula, juice, or other product that contains sugar. The sugar and acids in these liquids can cause Baby Bottle Tooth Decay. Remove the bottle as soon as your baby is done feeding or is asleep.
- Discuss your child’s fluoride needs with your dentist. If your child needs extra fluoride, your dentist may recommend a supplement or a gel or varnish that he or she would apply to your child’s teeth.
- Give your child nutritious foods to maintain healthy gums, develop strong teeth, and avoid tooth decay. These include whole grains, vegetables, and fruits. Try to avoid foods that are high in sugar and processed carbohydrates, such as pastries, pasta, and white bread.
- Do not give your child mouthwashes that contain alcohol. If your child age 6 or older has cavities, ask the dentist if your child should try mouthwash that contains fluoride.
- Keep your child away from cigarette smoke. Tobacco smoke may contribute to the development of tooth decay, gum disease, and other health issues.
- If your child sucks his or her fingers or thumb, help your child to stop.