Decay begins when the acids in foods and beverages attack the teeth and break down the enamel, leaving the teeth vulnerable and weakened.
Patients of any age can suffer from tooth decay, but for one particular group – babies – the condition needs to be closely monitored.
Baby bottle mouth is a condition in which baby’s teeth have started to decay. This often starts because the baby is constantly drinking milk, which, though very healthy, contains sugars that threaten baby’s oral health. A patient suffering from baby bottle mouth is facing an oral health care crisis.
Removing decay from any patient’s mouth is important, but it is particularly important to make sure this happens for the youngest patients. If baby’s teeth are very decayed, they may completely fall out. Baby teeth save space in the jaw for the adult teeth to come in later, so if you fail to take care of these teeth, the adult teeth are in danger.
Once baby teeth are lost, they are irreplaceable, at least until the adult teeth begin growing in. Of course, having teeth is necessary for many reasons, including eating and speaking. Losing the baby teeth too early will make everything more difficult for the child, so it is best to just remove as much decay as possible as early as possible.
It is much easier to avoid tooth decay than it is to treat it – this is true whether the patient is a baby or an adult. A few ways this condition can be avoided include:
- Remembering to wipe down baby’s gums after feedings with a damp cloth
- Avoiding letting the baby take a bottle of milk to bed (which will leave his or her teeth exposed to the sugars for several hours before they can be cleaned)
- Knowing when it’s time to begin brushing with toothpaste (his or her first birthday)
As a parent, it is your responsibility to take care of baby’s teeth.
Make it a priority to be careful about your child’s oral health, particularly during the first few years of life, to ensure that he or she has the opportunity to enjoy healthy teeth and gums for the rest of his or her life.