Childrens Dentistry

Baby Bottle/Decay

What causes tooth decay? Several specific types of bacteria that live on the teeth cause decay. When sugar is consumed the bacteria use the sugar and then manufacture acids that dissolve the teeth and cause an infection in the tooth. This infection is called decay.

What is baby-bottle tooth decay? Babies who go to bed with a bottle of milk, formula, or juice are more likely to get tooth decay. Because the sugar in formula, milk or juice stays in contact with the teeth for a long time during the night, the teeth can decay quickly.

Here are some tips to avoid baby-bottle tooth decay:

  • Put your child to bed with a bottle of plain water, not milk or juice.
  • Stop nursing when your child is asleep or has stopped sucking on the bottle
  • Try not to let your child walk around using a bottle of milk or juice as a pacifier
  • Start to teach your child to drink from a cup at about 6 months of age. Plan on discontinuing the bottle by 12 to 14 months at the latest.
  • Dont dip your childs pacifier in honey or sugar.
  • Brush or wipe your childs teeth before bedtime and nap.

Your child’s first visit

The first “regular” dental visit should be just after your child’s third birthday. The first dental visit is usually short and involves very little treatment. We may ask the parent to sit in the dental chair and hold their child during the examination. The parent may also be asked to wait in the reception area during part of the visit so that a relationship can be built between your child and your dentist.

We will gently examine your child’s teeth and gums. X-rays may be taken (to reveal decay and check on the progress of your child’s permanent teeth under the gums). We may clean your child’s teeth and apply topical fluoride to help protect the teeth against decay. We will make sure your child is receiving adequate fluoride at home. Most important of all, we will review with you how to clean and care for your child’s teeth.

What should I tell my child about the first dental visit?

We are asked this question many times. We suggest you prepare your child the same way that you would before their first haircut or trip to the shoe store. Your child’s reaction to his first visit to the dentist may surprise you.

Here are some “First Visit” tips:

  • Take your child for a “preview” or online tour of the office.
  • Read books with them about going to the dentist.
  • Review with them what the dentist will be doing at the time of the first visit.
  • Speak positively about your own dental experiences. Please try not to scare or threaten the child by what the dentist will do to make them behave. This never works!

During your first visit the dentist will:

  • Examine your mouth, teeth and gums
  • Evaluate adverse habits like thumb sucking
  • Check to see if you need Fluoride
  • Teach you about cleaning your teeth and gums
  • Suggest a schedule for regular dental visits.

What about preventative care?

Tooth decay and children no longer have to go hand in hand. At our office we are most concerned with all aspects of preventive care. We use the latest in sealant technology to protect your child’s teeth. Sealants are space-age plastics that are bonded to the chewing surfaces of decay prone back teeth. This is just one of the ways we will set the foundation for your child’s lifetime of good oral health.

Cavity prevention:

Most of the time cavities are due to a diet high in sugary foods and a lack of brushing. Limiting sugar intake and brushing regularly, of course, can help. The longer it takes your child to chew their foods the longer the residue stays on their teeth, the greater the chances of getting cavities.

Every time someone eats, an acid reaction occurs inside their mouth as the bacteria digests the sugars. This reaction lasts approximately 20 minutes. During this time the acid environment can destroy the tooth structure, eventually leading to cavities.

Consistency of a person’s saliva also makes a difference; thinner saliva breaks up and washes away food more quickly. When a person eats diets high in carbohydrates and sugars they tend to have thicker saliva, which in turn allows more of the acid-producing bacteria that can cause cavities.

Tips for cavity prevention:

  • Limit Frequency of meals and snacks.
  • Encourage brushing, flossing and rinsing.
  • Watch what you drink.
  • Avoid sticky foods.
  • Make treats part of meals.
  • Choose nutritious snacks.

The first baby teeth that come into the mouth are the two bottom front teeth. You will notice this when your baby is about 6-8 months old. Next to follow will be the 4 upper front teeth and the remainder of your baby’s teeth will appear periodically. They will usually appear in pairs along the sides of the jaw until the child is about 2 1/2 years old.

At around 2 1/2 years old your child should have all 20 teeth. Between the ages of 5 and 6 the first permanent teeth will begin to erupt. Some of the permanent teeth replace baby teeth and some don’t. Don’t worry if some teeth are a few months early or late as all children are different.

Baby teeth are important as they not only hold space for permanent teeth but they are important to chewing, biting, speech and appearance.

For this reason it is important to maintain a healthy diet and daily hygiene.