As a parent, keeping track of your child's health is a top priority. While 89% of 1-year-old children have visited a physician, only 1.5% have ever seen a dentist. However, the health of a child's teeth and gum tissue is imperative to their nutrition and overall wellness. Pediatric dental disease is the most common chronic childhood condition, with an estimated 25% of children in the United States aged 2 to 5 suffering with the consequences of untreated tooth decay. At Children's Dental Health Center of New Hampshire in Amherst, NH, we strive to change these statistics. Here are the facts on tooth decay in children and why it needs treated by Dr. James McAveeney and Dr. Andrew Cheifetz:
"Baby bottle" tooth decay
Even for babies who haven't yet cut their first teeth, your Amherst pediatric dentist recommends establishing good dental hygiene habits to avoid tooth decay. One of the most common ways that infants can be affected by tooth decay is through prolonged exposure to sugar-laden drinks - soda, juice, even milk. Many parents put these beverages in a bottle for a child to soothe themselves to sleep at naptime or bedtime. This can lead to the breakdown of enamel on the baby teeth, in particular the upper front teeth. To prevent this type of decay, your Amherst pediatric dentist recommends using a bottle only for feeding times; water may be substituted for other beverages if a child needs a bottle to fall asleep.
Tooth decay in infancy can also be caused by bacteria being passed from the parents or caregivers to the child; for example, if a father "cleans" a dropped pacifier in his mouth before giving it back to his child, or a mother taste-tests baby food and then feeds her child with the same spoon.
To keep your baby's gums clean, they should be wiped off with a clean gauze pad or washcloth after each feeding. Once your child starts cutting teeth, your Amherst dentist suggests brushing their teeth using a tiny smear of fluoride toothpaste and a soft-bristled toothbrush twice a day.
Pediatric dentists like Dr. McAveeney and Dr. Cheifetz recommend bringing your children in for a visit as soon as possible after their first birthday. If you would like to make an appointment to start your child on a path to good dental health, contact Children's Dental Health Center of New Hampshire in Amherst today!