We all understand the importance of oral health in adulthood since we only get one set of permanent teeth! What about baby teeth, though? Particularly from the frame of mind of a child.
Since baby teeth aren’t designed to remain with you throughout life, does it matter if a child gets a cavity or suffers from tooth erosion? Just like with your own teeth, it’s important to keep your child’s teeth healthy as well! The American Dental Association recommends you start brushing your child’s teeth as soon as the first one erupts and bringing them to the dentist around their first birthday. Tooth decay can affect everyone, so it’s important to practice good oral health to prevent any long-lasting problems.
We understand as a parent—especially parents of little ones—how much information you are inundated with about your child’s health. To help you understand what is most beneficial for their dental health, we have outlined your dental checklist to be on the lookout for!
Tooth erosion occurs when acids damage and dissolve the layers of enamel on a tooth. This erosion can cause permanent damage and discoloration to the tooth. The acid can occur from a variety of sources—anything from stomach acid to the food we eat.
When dentists notice baby teeth erosion, it’s typically a result of allowing children to go to bed with a cup of juice or milk (sometimes called milk bottle erosion) and not brushing their teeth after they finish their drink.
It’s important to limit the amount of juice your child drinks for several reasons. First, juice is high in natural and artificial sugar. This isn’t great for growing bodies and can lead to cavities. It’s recommended that children’s diet consist primarily of milk and water.
If you children does drink juice, it’s important to brush their teeth to prevent erosion. Tooth erosion can also be caused by a diet that lacks certain nutrients, or by medications that the child takes. Depending on the age and severity of the erosion, your dentist may recommend non-invasive treatments like sealants—or, if the erosion is severe, the tooth may need to be extracted. If your child suffers from baby teeth erosion, it is important to talk to your dentist to ensure the permanent teeth below remain healthy.
It’s estimated that more than 4 million preschoolers suffer from tooth decay. This is a result of higher-sugar foods in diets and the use of bottled water that doesn’t contain fluoride. While many cavities result from poor oral hygiene combined with high sugar diets, experts also say some children are predisposed to having more cavities than others. For instance, children with certain illnesses such as diabetes and asthma, or other chronic conditions, are more likely to have a cavity than their peers.
Children are not born with the bad bacteria in the mouth that eats away at the structure of the teeth and causes cavities. Instead, it’s generally transferred by a parent prior to age two by the transmission of salvia from a parent to the child. This could occur from sharing spoons or glasses with your child. While some people say their family has a history of bad teeth, there is some truth to that statement. You pass down the germs and bacteria that can cause tooth decay. If you, as the parent, know you have had numerous cavities, then it is important to schedule regular dentist appointments starting at six months for your child.
While it may seem better for children to experience cavities in their baby teeth since they fall out (as opposed to their permanent teeth), the truth is you need a healthy mouth in general to grow healthy adult teeth. This is why it’s important to have cavities filled and tooth decay addressed while your child is young.
If tooth decay starts to impact the gums, it can easily impact the teeth and bones beneath the surface. In addition, untreated tooth decay can lead to infections that need more medical intervention. To ensure your children have a lifetime of bright smiles, start brushing their teeth as soon as the first one erupts. Use a toothpaste with fluoride and ensure they aren’t going to bed with a bottle of milk or juice.
At our practice we love to see kids and help ensure they have a healthy mouth for life. If you have a little one, give us a call today for their first appointment!
Also published on Medium.