Parenthood is full of delightful surprises. And of course there are the unwelcome ones, like when I have to tell you your toddler has a cavity; in her tiny baby tooth! Tooth decay is a disease known as “dental caries” that is caused by specific germs and is actually transmitted within families.
Overall, because of the susceptibility of these tender teeth, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry Association (AAPD) recommends children should visit a dentist by their first birthday.
Baby teeth are sort of like little "starter sets" if you will. As placeholders for adult teeth, baby teeth help the future ones to come in straight and help children learn to form words properly. Like dental training wheels, they teach children to establish excellent habits and avoid the dreaded dentist chair.
Keeping Decay at Bay
We all understand the evils of sugar. Yet it is the huge infusion of sugar into infant and children’s diets that is the villain responsible for the formation of cavities behind those innocent-looking smiles.
Formula, breast milk, even diluted fruit juices serve to literally coat the teeth in sugar says Ronald Kosinski, D.M.D., chief of pediatric dentistry at Schneider Children's Hospital.
“In fact, dentists used to call early dental caries "baby-bottle tooth decay" because it often occurs in children who drink milk or juice during the night -- allowing sugar to sit on the teeth for ten or 12 hours”. Those little teeth are susceptible (if not more so) to the same enamel breaches as permanent teeth.
How to Protect Baby Teeth
- Even pre-teething, you can wipe your child’s gums with a damp washcloth after her feedings.
- From the time the first little tooth breaks through, brush them.
- Âž You needn’t use toothpaste, but if you do, it should be free of fluoride.
- When they start going to those birthday parties, prepare for the Triple Crown of Tooth Decay (soda, cake, and ice cream) that join forces to erode precious enamel.
- Any short or prolonged exposure to soda is like soaking teeth in acid. The best advice is to never drink it.
Save yourself and your child from future dentistry expenses, the trauma of periodontal disease, and the overall fear of coming to visit me by starting dental care early. It will give you one less thing to worry about!