Although baby teeth will eventually exfoliate they serve several purposes in your child’s mouth. Baby teeth help with your child’s ability to eat, speak and of course, smile! One other very important purpose for baby teeth is that they serve as placeholders for adult teeth later on in life. If baby teeth are not well cared for, dental infections can arise; causing discomfort, pain, illness and may even lead to extractions which can lead to orthodontic concerns. Additionally, if your child has infected baby teeth, they may develop poor eating habits, speech problems, and damaged adult teeth.
Bottle feeding and tooth decay
One common cause of tooth decay in infants is bottle-feeding during sleep. When sweetened beverages, including those with natural sugars (milk, formula, juice) are given during nap time, the prolonged exposure to sugar in the mouth give bacteria the ability to produce acid, causing tooth decay. Although infants bottle feed mostly using their front teeth, due to ph imbalances and reduced saliva flow during sleep, all teeth can be affected.
What can I do to protect baby teeth
Fortunately, a few simple steps can help avoid bottle feeding tooth decay
• Once your baby has finished feeding remove the baby from the bottle.
• Avoid leaving a baby to feed from a bottle without supervision.
• Wipe the baby’s gums with a clean gauze pad or washcloth after each feeding.
• Also, massage or wipe any gum areas which do not yet have teeth
• Schedule regular dental visits by your child’s first birthday. Dentists also offer special sealant coatings, oral hygiene and fluoride advice, which can help prevent tooth decay in children.
Thanks to Kay (Karishma), our amazing Oral Health Therapist for all of this great information. If you want to talk to her about this or any other questions you may have, Kay works at our Werribee Clinic, on Tuesdays and Fridays. Contact us on 03 9372 8960 for an appointment.