Although your child won’t have their baby teeth for their whole life, they can still develop cavities and should be cared for as if they are their permanent teeth. It’s not always easy to brush a toddler’s teeth, but there are plenty of other steps you can take to help prevent early tooth decay. Below, we take a closer look at tooth decay in infants and toddlers, and how you can help protect their teeth as they grow.
Causes of Baby Tooth Decay
Tooth decay in infants, oftentimes referred to as baby bottle tooth decay, can be caused by a number of different issues. A lot of times parents don’t even realize they are potentially exposing their child’s teeth to sources of decay, which is why it’s important that we point out some of the more common causes. Those causes can include:
- Prolonged or regular exposure to drinks that contain sugar, like juice.
- Using a bottle as a pacifier for a fussy baby, or letting a child sleep with a bottle.
- The passing of saliva from parent to child. For example, if the parent cleans a pacifier or spoon with their mouth then gives it to the child, decay-causing bacteria can enter their mouth.
Infants and toddlers also don’t receive enough fluoride from sources like water in order to fully protect their teeth from decay, so it’s important that you take steps to help prevent an abundance of sugars or bacteria from entering their mouth.
Preventing Baby Bottle Tooth Decay
Preventing baby bottle tooth decay comes down to knowing what can lead to tooth decay and making a plan to stay ahead of the problem. For starters, clean spoons, pacifiers or other items that may end up in your child’s mouth with water or a wet wipe. Stick to formula, milk or breast milk in bottles so kids aren’t regularly sipping on juice or other sugary liquids, and avoid sending them to bed or pacifying a tantrum with a bottle. Other tips include:
- Have your child get regular dental exams, beginning around the age of one.
- When teeth come in, brush them gently with a tiny smear of toothpaste until around the age of three.
- Increase the amount of toothpaste they get to a pea-sized portion at the age of three until they’re six.
- Limit sugary snacks, and strive for healthy eating habits.
In order to have healthy teeth for life, children need to start early with the help of their parents, so be proactive about protecting their teeth. To set up their next dentist appointment, or if you have questions about brushing at a certain age, reach out to Dr. Brooks’ office today.