Prevention is the Key
By Dr. Cobb, Pediatric Dental Specialist of Olathe, Kansas.
One of the saddest situations we see in a pediatric dental practice is baby bottle tooth decay, also known as nursing caries.
In these cases, the child is usually in severe pain by the age of 2 to 3 years old. The child's front teeth are badly broken down due to the extensive decay.
Caused by prolonged bottle feeding and nursing, nursing caries can be prevented. If you choose to nurse or bottle feed past your child's first birthday, we recommend that you consult your child's dentist and keep follow-up appointments every 3 months until you are finished nursing or bottle feeding.
Begin brushing your baby's teeth as soon as the first tooth erupts. Until then, use a damp washcloth to wipe the gums clean.
Once you are brushing your baby's teeth, use a minimal amount of toothpaste until your child can rinse his or her mouth and expectorate without accidental swallowing. Use an American Dental Association approved toothpaste, such as CrestTM, ColgateTM or AIMTM.
Be sure your child is using a soft-bristle toothbrush. They are effective in removing plaque and will be less likely to cause tooth and gum abrasion.
We recommend your child see a dentist at age 1 and keep regular appointments every 6 months. This initial visit is your opportunity to gather important information about your child's oral health.
One of the easiest ways to prevent tooth decay as your child gets older is to minimize or eliminate your child's intake of soft drinks. Among frequent consumers, regular soft drinks promote tooth decay as they bathe the teeth with sugar-water for long periods of time.
Prevention is the key to healthy teeth, so remember:
- Brush in the morning, after every meal and before bed
- Have your child visit a dentist on a regular basis
- And to prevent injury, your child should wear a protective mouth piece when participating in contact sports
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