Despite some recent success with the prevention of tooth decay, it still remains a significant problem in children. Tooth decay can start early; in fact, you need to be able to spot and help prevent it right from the time your baby first starts teething.
So, what exactly is tooth decay and what are its causes? Tooth decay is caused by bacteria (germs) that find a home in the sugars can build up on your child’s teeth. Germs need three things t flourish; food, water and warmth all of which are found in plentiful supply in your baby’s mouth. Over time, these bacteria dissolve the enamel, or outer layer, of the tooth. This damaged area is called a cavity.
Primary teeth are usually called baby teeth or milk teeth and first start to erupt through the gums of your baby between 4 to 6 months of age. Teething lasts until all 20 teeth appear, the children being usually around 2 ½ years of age by this time. Teething is a major milestone in the development of your child but it is also, quite often, a painful one. The eruption of primary teeth, or teething, can cause sore and tender gums that appear red and puffy. To help relieve the pain, you can give the baby a cold teething ring or a damp washcloth to chew on. My mother used to give me a cold carrot stick to suck on.
If you’re bottle-feeding you need to be more aware of tooth decay – most often called baby bottle tooth decay. One reason bottle-fed babies are more prone to tooth decay rather than those who are breastfed is due to the sugars found in milk formula, although the sugar levels in today’s formulas are markedly less then they used to be. However the biggest contributor to baby bottle tooth decay is the practice of putting baby to bed with a bottle, which he can suck on for hours. Yet another cause of decay is the use of pacifiers; a personal hate of mine! Not only does the use of pacifiers dipped in sugar exacerbate decay, it makes babies look most unattractive.
In summary, when you bottle-feed you must be more aware of how your child can contract toot decay and on how to prevent it. The American Academy of Paediatric Dentistry has developed the following guidelines for preventing baby bottle tooth decay:
Don’t allow a child to fall asleep with a bottle containing milk, formula, fruit juices, or other sweet liquids. Never let a child walk with a bottle in her mouth.
Comfort a child who wants a bottle between regular feedings or during naps with a bottle filled with cool water.
Always make sure a child’s pacifier is clean, and never dip a pacifier in a sweet liquid.
Introduce children to a cup as they approach 1 year of age. Children should stop drinking from a bottle soon after their first birthday.
By simply following the above recommendations you’ll help prevent baby bottle tooth decay and alleviate a lot of discomfort for your baby. You’ll also get the added bonus of making your baby’s smile even more beautiful.