All You Need To Know About Cavities In Baby Teeth
Your child’s primary teeth are at risk of dental caries starting with the first days of their arrival, which is usually around the age of six months. This means that wise prevention measures must be taken that early to avoid major dental health complications in the future.
If you still notice the first warning signs of cavities in your child’s baby teeth, make sure to start timely treatment, as the health of the primary teeth is the key not only to brilliant oral cavity condition, plus proper speech and chewing pattern, but also a firm base for the successful eruption and proper alignment of the future permanent teeth.
How Do the Cavities in Baby Teeth Reveal Themselves?
This dental condition, which affects both infants and toddlers, is also commonly called baby bottle tooth decay, since it frequently gets passed from one of the parents, who follows misguided recommendations and “disinfects” a baby bottle, pacifier, or spoon with their saliva.
Pediatric dental care providers observe the tendency of cavities in baby teeth mostly affect the upper front teeth.
However, the disease can also develop on the back and lower teeth. ADA experts additionally warn that multiple cavities in baby teeth are actually more common, when compared to the similar dental condition in permanent teeth.
Like tooth decay in adults, the cavities in baby teeth reveal themselves in the form of hardly noticeable white and chalky spots in the early stages of the disease. As it is really easy for someone with no medical education to overlook this minor pattern change in the tooth enamel, it is essential for your still very young child to regularly visit the dentist to start treatment of the disease at the earliest stage possible.
The bacteria triggering tooth decay will gradually (the process can take up to several months) eat up the tooth enamel layer and get into the pulp. As this happens, your child will start complaining about pain in the infected tooth, and the white spot will acquire a more distinct shape and turn darker.
It means that you should not waste a day, since from this point on, the cavities in baby teeth cannot be managed by conservative dental treatment methods and call for the placement of dental fillings.
If left untreated, the harmful bacteria unexpectedly rapidly reach the middle part of the affected tooth; and the pain gets increasingly sharper and even begins shooting; the cavities get almost black.
Avoid neglecting the cavities in baby teeth to such an advanced stage, as some children develop such severe tooth decay that the only way to stop the harmful bacteria is to remove the affected tooth.
What Causes Cavities in Baby Teeth?
As I have already mentioned, the bacteria which cause cavities in baby teeth are most commonly passed from the parents or other primary care providers with their saliva.
Among other common causes of the condition, pediatric dental care experts name the prolonged exposure of the baby’s oral cavity to sugary liquids. Most commonly, this is sugared water, when it is used as a pacifier for a fussy infant or one suffering with colic. Similarly, it is worth avoiding dipping the baby’s pacifier in honey or sugar.
Apart from that, the same properties which trigger cavities in baby teeth are typical of fruit juices, and even, potentially, breast milk and babies’ formula, especially if you put your child to bed with his bottle.
Unfortunately, sugar creates the perfect breeding environment for the bacteria which cause cavities in baby teeth, as a result of which an environment is produced which is strongly damaging to strong tooth enamel. The situation gets even worse when the sugared liquid stays on the baby’s teeth overnight.
Finally, children who receive an insufficient amount of vitamins, nutrients, or fluoride, are also in the high-risk group for developing cavities in baby teeth. The causes of the disease are associated with a low body protection barrier, incapable of preventing harmful bacteria from breeding, and the latter group of infants and toddlers are prone to cavities in their baby teeth because they face thinning of their tooth enamel, which makes them virtually non-resistant to attacks from the acidic oral cavity environment.
What Does Treatment of Cavities in Baby Teeth Involve?
The dental caries treatment plan is individual for every individual baby and gets developed by your pediatric dental care provider in accordance with the severity of the disease and its possible causes.
For instance, the very early stage of cavities in baby teeth can be successfully managed by maintaining adequate oral hygiene, introducing certain dietary changes, and / or eliminating the source of the oral bacteria. On the other hand, advanced cavities in baby teeth call for the placement of dental fillings, or even restoration or removal of the tooth in certain cases.
Please note that the first two dental procedures are traditionally performed for toddlers, not for infants.
How Are Cavities in Baby Teeth Prevented?
Prevention of the disease should start with lowering the risk of transmission of oral bacteria from adults to a baby.
This involves the maintenance of adequate oral hygiene, not only for the parents, but also for other primary care providers, not to mention preventing adults from licking a baby’s pacifier, bottle, or spoon.
Proper oral hygiene for infants aimed at preventing cavities in baby teeth includes wiping the gum line with soft gauze after each feeding; this will help to remove dental plaque and milk or formula residue. As soon as your baby develops his first tooth, start brushing it with a toothbrush with a child’s size head, previously dipped in water.
Starting from the age of two, your child might try practicing adult oral hygiene by putting a pea size portion of a toothpaste without fluoride on his toothbrush. Consult with your dentist about the possibility and techniques of introducing dental floss into your child’s oral care routine.
Use a separate bottle for breast milk or baby formula and another one for fruit juices or sugared water.
In addition, it would be wise of you to encourage your baby to drink from his cup by his first birthday to avoid cavities in baby teeth associated with prolonged exposure to sugar in the baby bottle. For the same reason, ensure your infant’s pacifier is clean and never dip it into sugar or honey.
Consult with your pediatric dental care provider about the normal fluoride intake for your child’s age. First of all, your baby gets it with his food and water. Also, consider that even babies’ formulas might contain fluoride, if they are made with fluoridated water.
Finally, remember to ensure that your child gets enough nutrients and eats plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits, since a balanced diet is the key to both prevention and treatment of cavities in baby teeth.
So, brilliant dental health starts already in childhood with close monitoring and prevention of symptoms of cavities in baby teeth, accomplished not only by experienced pediatric dental care providers, but also by the parents.