Tooth decay in infant and toddlers is also known as “Baby Bottle Tooth Decay” or “Early Childhood Caries”. Baby Bottle Tooth Decay most often occurs in the upper front teeth of your child.
Although baby teeth may seem to be temporary, importance should be given to baby teeth. As previously discussed, baby teeth are important in development of speech and masticatory functions. They also serve as a guide to the position of the erupting permanent teeth.
What causes Baby Bottle Tooth Decay?
Failure to take care of the teeth properly may cause tooth decay, especially if children are put to bed with bottle of milk. Milk has sugar content and teeth will remain coated throughout night with it if your child is left with a bottle by its side for the night. Bacteria-eating sugar produces acid that causes teeth to soften, thus resulting in tooth decay.
Parents and caregivers can also transfer bacteria to children by kissing or letting them use an adult’s utensils.
What does Baby Bottle Tooth Decay look like?
- Brown or black spots on the teeth especially upper front teeth
- Swollen or reddish gums
How to prevent Baby Bottle Tooth Decay?
- Limit your child’s intake of sugary food and drinks.
- For infants, let them drink water in a bottle after drinking milk. You may also want to clean their teeth with a warm towel after they have finished drinking milk.
- Train your child to drink milk in a cup before sleeping, followed by drinking water or brushhing teeth.
- Avoid sharing utensils with your child. Let them use their own utensils.
- Do not kiss your child directly on their lips.
If you think your child has Baby Bottle Tooth Decay, it is recommended to bring your child to the dentist as soon as possible. Mild Baby Bottle Tooth Decay can be treated simply with restorations. However, a more severe Baby Bottle Tooth Decay may require a more complex treatment such as apicoectomy (root canal treatment for baby teeth), crown, etc. The earlier it can be diagnosed, the earlier it will be treated with less invasive procedures.
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