It’s hard to associate troublesome cavities with adorable babies, but babies are far more vulnerable to dental disease than adults are due to the softer and thinner enamel on baby teeth (deciduous dentition). Baby bottle syndrome and poor cleaning habits are common factors that often lead to cavities in your child’s brand new teeth – the real question is since baby teeth are supposed to fall out and be replaced by permanent teeth, is it necessary to go through lots of work and spend money maintaining those deciduous teeth?
Baby teeth can easily become compromised by bacteria lingering in a young child’s mouth – and if not treated quickly, can decay away in matter of weeks. In many cases, the poor child not only suffers from toothaches, but during the first dental visit an unpleasant memory association of the dentist’s office can develop subconsciously. If your dental professional notes that a severely decayed baby tooth needs a root canal (followed with baby tooth crown ), don’t panic – this routine procedure is vital if the tooth is fully compromised! In this situation, the frustrations, the lengthy processes and the expenses might lead to the thinking “why bother with all the work, why not just pull the unhealthy baby teeth?” If the infected baby tooth is left untreated, not only will it lead to a unhappy child, it can also affect the permanent tooth lying below the unhealthy baby tooth.
By the time your child reaches age 2, he or she should have 20 deciduous teeth, as permanent teeth start to grow in around age 5 1/2 to 6. The lower front baby teeth are the first to exfoliate, replaced by permanent teeth. At the same time, permanent molars also emerge behind the baby molars. This process continues as baby teeth fall out, visits are paid from the tooth fairy and new teeth erupt through the gum, a memory in every child! The last set of baby teeth eventually exfoliate around age 12, to be replaced by permanent bicuspids. Even if your child’s baby teeth are not be in the best condition, they serve an important role in addition to chewing and speech function – baby teeth maintain necessary space in the jaw bone for permanent teeth to grow in.
If a child looses a baby tooth too early, the jaw bone misses out on functional stimulation by not holding up by the baby tooth. The consecutive permanent tooth will be affected and will not develop nor align properly. It is for this reason that baby teeth cannot be simply pulled in the event of a cavity . If a baby tooth is lost early, placing a space maintainer will hold the jaw dimension at its original measure, ensuring the proper development of permanent teeth. Take proper care in maintaining baby teeth – they may be short lived, but the effect and influence of deciduous teeth are life long and shouldn’t be overlooked.
It’s a privilege to be a mother – just ask Angelina Jolie! The joys of being a new mother also come with lots of new responsibilities. We must learn about how to care for our babies properly – besides love and cuddling! Safety, nutrition, physical and intellectual development and dental care are often overlooked. Even two of my nephews had suffered from rotten baby teeth (from baby bottle syndrome)!
Once the exciting jouney of pregnancy begins, your doctor will start you on prenatal vitamins. Essentially, these supplements help curb any vitamin or mineral deficiencies you may have as to properly foster the development of your fetus. Folic acid, calcium and iron are among the most important contents of these vitamins, and they are important in building your child’s first set of teeth! Although an infant’s teeth don’t start emerging until the age of approximately 5-6 months, proper development of those teeth are necessary from womb development so that when the teeth do emerge, they are strong and healthy!
Once your child’s primary teeth have begun to emerge, it is important to take good care of them. Clean new baby teeth with a damp wash cloth to wipe them free of food after feeding, and have the child drink some water to further wash down the mouth. Not only do primary teeth help a child eat and speak, but they hold space in the jaws for permanent teeth to develop.
As previously mentioned, it is extremely important to prevent baby bottle syndrome – rotten baby teeth which occurs when the baby falls sleep with a bottle of milk or juice in his or her mouth. Fermentable liquids can pool around a child’s teeth, leading to acidity and bacteria buildup in the mouth which can rot baby teeth quickly. These teeth are too soft to resist erosion and tooth decay. Once the decay process stars, it can soon progress to the pulp tissues and your poor baby would suffer from toothaches and infections – it might even affect the tooth buds of permanent teeth. So, once your child’s teeth emerge into the mouth, do not let your baby fall asleep with a bottle in its mouth (unless it is only water)!
Finally, it is great idea to start good oral hygiene and diet habits early! Never ever give your baby soda or soft drinks! The sugar and acid content in these drinks will erode your child’s teeth and start bad habits that can be difficult to break. Also try to avoid sugary carbohydrates and candies! Once there are several baby teeth present, wiping teeth with a damp cloth should be replaced with actual brushing with a soft-bristled brush. By the time your child is potty trained, it’s about time to start learning about brushing their teeth. Allowing your child to brush their own teeth holding a child friendly toothbrush (while you direct the handle) is a great way to start good oral hygiene habits! It will be parent’s responsibility to assist in brushing of the teeth until they enter elementary school, which is when they should have the maturity and manual dexterity to handle it themselves. If you rely on a nanny or caretaker, make sure to instill this information to them.
Regarding further information on dental home care, please refer to our other postings or submit your questions, I will address your specific issue or ask your dental professional!