Thousand Oaks, Agoura Hills and Westlake Village, CA
Did you know that tooth decay is one of the most widespread chronic diseases among children in America? According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, 42 percent of children between the ages of 2 and 11 develop at least one cavity in their primary teeth. You might be surprised to learn that even babies and toddlers can be vulnerable to cavities—even before they start eating solid foods. This phenomenon is known as baby bottle tooth decay. Your family dentist in Agoura Hills at Integrative Dental Arts wants you to learn about baby bottle tooth decay, and how it can be prevented.
What causes baby bottle tooth decay?
If your child drinks milk or juice for extended periods, especially at night, it creates an acidic environment in his or her mouth that allows cavity-causing bacteria to thrive. The high intake of these sugary drinks serves as a fuel source for the bacteria, which excrete acids when they feed. These acids deteriorate tooth enamel, which can lead to cavities in your child’s baby teeth.
Saliva is a natural means of protection against these bacteria. It washes away lingering sugars and helps to neutralize acids that are present in the mouth. However, if your child is allowed to drink beverages at will all night long, saliva production slows, allowing these sugars and acids to remain present.
Here’s how you can prevent cavities in your child
First, do your best to refrain from sharing spoons and cups with your baby. You also should start cleaning your baby’s teeth as soon as they emerge from the gum line. You don’t even need a toothbrush for this; just wipe the teeth and inside of the mouth using a clean washcloth. The most valuable thing you can do, though, is limit how much your child drinks milk and juice, and the timing of when they have a sippy cup or bottle. Never send your child to bed with a bottle of either beverage; instead, make sure they finish drinking before bed and clean their teeth afterward to remove any sugars from their mouth. Limit juice consumption to 4 ounces per day, and dilute it by 50 percent with water, or just avoid it entirely as it presents no health benefits for children. You also should consider only offering milk or juice at mealtime, as your child will increase saliva production when he or she eats.
Pediatric Dentistry in Agoura Hills
The American Dental Association recommends that children start seeing their dentist either after their first birthday, or after the first baby tooth emerges from the gum line—whichever happens first. At Integrative Dental Arts, our dentist Dr. Kathleen Carson takes pride in providing the highest level of care to our patients of any age. As a mother herself, Dr. Carson understands the particular challenges of working with children and infants, as well as the concerns that parents—especially new parents—have about safeguarding the oral health of their kids. Your child’s initial visit with Integrative Dental Arts will include a thorough dental cleaning, as well as a gentle exam. We want to make sure this visit, and all visits to our office in Agoura Hills, are positive experiences. To learn more about our program of kids care, call (818) 889-0400 or contact us to schedule a consultation if you’re located in Agoura Hills and Westlake Village in Southern California.