Decay of milk teeth
Our teeth are the home of millions of bacteria that live in the sticky film that forms across our teeth called plaque.
Whenever we have food or drink containing sugar, these bacteria break it down into acid, which can lead to decay. So as soon as your child's teeth start to come through, it's time to start protecting them.
For children under 3 years, the best way to do this is by brushing their teeth twice a day with a smear of fluoride toothpaste.
The brushing will remove plaque from the teeth surfaces, and the fluoride will help strengthen the tooth enamel.
Another step is to restrict sugar to mealtimes. This will keep the time your children's teeth are under attack from plaque acid to a minimum.
How do I care for my infant's teeth?
Good oral care starts from the beginning of your child's life. Even before his or her first teeth emerge, certain factors can affect their future appearance and health. For instance, tetracycline, a common antibiotic, can cause tooth discoloration. For this reason, they should not be used by nursing mothers or by expectant mothers in the last half of pregnancy.
Since baby teeth usually emerge around six months of age, standard oral health procedures like brushing and flossing aren't required for infants. However, infants have special oral health needs that every new parent should know about. These include guarding against baby bottle decay and making sure your child is receiving enough fluoride.
What is baby bottle decay and how can I prevent it?
Baby bottle decay is caused by frequent exposure, over time, to liquids containing sugars. These include milk, formula, and fruit juices. The sugary liquids pool around the teeth for long periods of time as your baby sleeps, leading to cavities that first develop in the upper and lower front teeth. For this reason, you shouldn't let your baby fall asleep with a bottle of juice or milk in his mouth. Instead, at naptime, give your child a bottle filled with water or a pacifier recommended by your pediatric dentist. If you breast-feed, avoid letting the baby nurse continuously. And after each feeding, wipe your baby's teeth and gums with a clean, damp washcloth or a gauze pad.
What is fluoride and how do I know if my baby is getting the right amount?
Fluoride is beneficial even before your child's teeth begin to erupt. It strengthens the tooth enamel as the teeth are forming. In many municipal water supplies, the right amount of fluoride is added for proper tooth development. To find out whether your water contains fluoride, and how much, call your local water district. If your water supply does not contain any (or enough) fluoride, talk to your pediatrician or dentist about fluoride drops that can be given to your baby daily. If you use bottled water for drinking and cooking, be sure to tell your doctor or pediatric dentist. They may prescribe fluoride supplements for the baby.