Cavities and Decay Can Develop Even in Infants

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You may not think of cavities as something that can happen to infants, but it definitely can. And even though your child will eventually lose his or her baby teeth, infant dental health can have a big impact on long-term oral health.

How tooth decay happens

Many of the liquids – milk, formula, or fruit juices – you might feed your baby are full of natural sugars. They bathe your child’s teeth in sugar and can stay there for a long time. Bacteria in their mouths feed on this sugar, making acids that attack the teeth and cause cavities, plaque, and tooth decay. If you put your baby down for nap or bedtime with these liquids, it can cause even more harm, since saliva increases while they sleep.

Why good care is important

Your child’s baby teeth are important for chewing, smiling, and eventually speaking. Untreated tooth decay could interfere with eating and speech. It can also increase the chance that permanent teeth will come in crooked, since baby teeth help make sure there’s enough space for adult teeth to grow in straight.

Tooth decay can also cause pain and even infection. If a tooth is severely decayed, it may have to be removed.

How to ensure good infant dental health

  • Don’t give your child soft drinks.
  • Use only plain water in a bottle at nap time or bedtime.
  • Wipe your baby’s gums with a washcloth after each feeding.
  • Start brushing your child’s teeth when the first tooth comes in.
  • Don’t let your child walk around using a bottle of milk or juice as a pacifier
  • Avoid prolonged use of a pacifier, and never dip it in sugar or a sweetened liquid.
  • Try to cut down on sugar in your child’s diet.
  • Limit juice and water it down when you do use it.
  • If you use a lot of bottled water, it may or may not have adequate levels of fluoride. Read the label and ask your dentist about any concerns.
  • Don’t share spoons or toothbrushes with your child, since this can transfer additional bacteria from your mouth into theirs.
  • Inspect your child’s teeth regularly for any visible signs of problems.

Take your baby for a first dental visit at Jordan Dentistry around the time of his or her first birthday. We can help ensure good infant dental health that starts a lifetime of good oral habits and care.

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