When people think about cavities, they often assume this issue mainly impacts older children, teens, and adults. However, as soon as a tooth erupts, there is a risk of cavities developing. In fact, even babies and toddlers could suffer from cavities, an issue known commonly as baby bottle decay. In today’s blog, we’re looking at what our Garland, TX, patients can do to protect little smiles from tooth decay.
Baby Bottle Decay
For people of all ages, consuming foods and drinks leaves behind particles on and between the teeth. Without removal via brushing and flossing, these particles remain and will be broken down by bacteria, a process that increases the risk of tooth decay. In the process of breaking down these particles, bacteria coat the teeth in plaque and increase oral acidity. Plaque weakens tooth enamel, increasing the risk of tooth decay occurring. Once a cavity forms, treatment is necessary to stop the spread and prevent infection. Even if a baby tooth develops a cavity, you should still see your dentist for treatment, as months or even years may pass before the tooth falls out naturally. In that time, a minor cavity could become a serious and painful dental infection.
First, don’t let your child go to sleep or nap with a bottle of milk or juice, as these coat the teeth and leave behind particles for bacteria to break down. Also, be sure your child brushes his or her teeth every night. For babies, clean their teeth with a cloth or piece of gauze. As they grow and more teeth erupt, upgrade to an age-appropriate toothbrush and brush their teeth once when they wake up and again before going to bed. Flossing is essential as soon as teeth are erupting side-by-side. For children under the age of three, use a fluoride-free toothpaste. Kids three and up need a fluoride toothpaste to help protect smiles from cavities.
Your child should have his or her first dental visit around age one, once the first baby tooth arrives. Starting at age two, regular six-month checkups and cleanings will be necessary. During these visits, we watch for signs of decay and offer lifelike fillings before the issue causes discomfort. We also clean the teeth, removing plaque and tartar from the smile. Routine visits also reduce the risk of dental anxiety in children, as they become accustomed to seeing the dentist.
Fluoride and Dental Sealants
If we find a child has a high risk of developing decay, we may provide preventive treatments. Fluoride varnish can be applied to the teeth, strengthening the outer layers of tooth enamel. A dental sealant is a special plastic coating we add to the teeth to stop food particles from becoming trapped between the rear molars, which can be difficult for children to reach when cleaning their teeth.
SCHEDULE A VISIT FOR YOUR LITTLE ONE
We want to work with you to help your little ones enjoy optimal oral health. For more information on our approach to children’s dentistry, schedule a consultation by calling Mai Dentistry in Garland, TX, today at 972-530-0552. For our patients who don’t speak English, our office is fluent in both Spanish and Vietnamese.