Early Childhood Tooth Decay
What Causes Tooth Decay?
Several specific types of bacteria that live on the teeth cause decay. When sugar is consumed, the bacteria use the sugar and then manufacture acids that dissolve the teeth and cause a bacterial infection in the tooth. This infection is called decay.
What Is Early Childhood Tooth Decay?
Babies who go to bed with a bottle of milk, formula, or juice are more likely to get tooth decay. Because the sugar in formula, milk, or juice stays in contact with the teeth for a long time during the night, and children stop producing saliva to neutralize the mouth, bacteria can produce large amounts of acid.
Some Tips To Avoid Early Childhood Tooth Decay
- Put your child to bed with a bottle of plain water, not milk or juice.
- Wipe your child’s teeth with a wet cloth after nursing at night.
- Try not to let your child walk around using a bottle of milk, juice, or sweetened beverages.
- Start to teach your child to drink from a cup as soon as possible. Plan to ween from a bottle by 12 to 14 months.
- Don’t dip your child’s pacifier in sources of sugar.
What Is Systemic Fluoride?
Fluoride helps make teeth strong and prevents tooth decay. If the water where you live does not have enough fluoride, your doctor may prescribe fluoride supplements (fluoride drops or pills). You would give these drops or pills every day, starting when your child is about six months old. Only give as much as the directions say to use because too much fluoride can cause spots on your child’s teeth. Also, be sure to call your local water authority and ask if your water is fluoridated. If it is, tell your dentist or pediatrician so that your child is not being over fluoridated. Children should take these drops or pills until they are 12 to 16 years old (or until you move to an area with fluoride in the water).