Early childhood caries refers to tooth decay in infants and toddlers. This condition is characterized by milk teeth decay, white spots on the teeth, inflammation, and fever, among other symptoms. If left untreated, early childhood caries can lead to severe infections and premature tooth loss. Loss of milk teeth causes speech problems, eating disorders, and crooked adult teeth. Thus, it's essential to watch out for the following habits that expose your child to dental caries.
Use of the Bedtime Bottle
Are you accustomed to giving your child the bedtime bottle? The only thing you should give your little one during their bedtime is water. Milk, sugary juices, and other similar drinks expose your child to tooth decay. Drinks like these contain sugars that accelerate bacterial action in the mouth. Since saliva production slows down when one is asleep, there isn't enough to wash down the harmful bacteria.
When your child falls asleep after having a bottle of these fluids, the sugar molecules combine with the bacteria in the mouth to form plaque. Plaque dissolves the enamel and causes cavities. Protect your little one from early childhood caries by keeping them away from the bedtime bottle. If you have to give them a bottle, fill it with water.
Non-Existent Dental Hygiene Routine
Most people neglect dental hygiene in toddlers. Whether your child has two or eight teeth, they need a dental hygiene routine. Failure to clean the teeth encourages the multiplication of harmful bacteria. These lead to the development of plaque, which leads to tooth decay. Following proper dental hygiene can keep these issues at bay. Below are some tips to get started.
- Clean your child's teeth with a clean piece of cloth after each meal
- Use a child-friendly toothbrush to brush your child's teeth
- Use fluoride-free toothpaste for your child's first teeth
Once all the milk teeth come in, find a toothpaste that has child-safe fluoride levels. Using fluoride helps protect against cavities. However, don't use adult toothpaste products as they contain high levels of fluoride. Also, floss your baby's teeth at least once a day to get rid of stuck food particles.
Exposure to Sugary Foods
Sugary foods and drinks are bad for your young child's teeth. If they are always snacking on sweets, ice cream, fizzy drinks, and cakes, they could get tooth decay. Fruit juices and smoothies with high sugar and acid content aren't entirely safe either. Thus, don't over-expose your child to sugary foods. However, since you can't avoid all sugary foods, follow a strict dental hygiene routine to keep tooth decay at bay.
Take your child to your family dentist at least twice a year for dental check-ups and cleanings. An early diagnosis can prevent severe dental problems in your baby. Contact a family dentist for more information.