CAVITIES IN BABY TEETH!
At Redbud pediatrics, we spend quite a bit of time educating families about good oral health for the babies and toddlers in our practice. We unfortunately often find early cavities in children who are right around the age of one year.
What are baby bottle cavities or toddler cavities?
Cavities are actually the result of a bacterial process that damages the tooth structure and makes holes in the teeth. It is an infectious disease, so if a parent has active cavities then their infant or young child is at high risk of getting them too. Cavities in this age group usually occur at a different place than in older kids and adults– at the area where the gum meets the tooth.
What do cavities look like in young children?
Cavities or early damage to the tooth enamel in baby teeth can be hard to spot. Often it just looks like an inconsistent color to the tooth.
Why do cavities even matter in baby teeth since they fall out anyway?
Cavities in baby teeth can cause significant pain, problems with speech, and difficulty and pain with eating. Treating significant cavities in young children can require general sedation and treatment in an operating room
How can we prevent cavities in our kids?
- First, make sure the parents are getting good dental care and brushing their own teeth twice daily. If a parent has had a recent cavity, the children in the home are at high risk; cavities are a type of infectious disease.
- Brush your child’s twice daily with a fluoride toothpaste as soon as they have a tooth
- Limit sugar-containing drinks.
- Do not let your older infant or toddler go to sleep with a bottle, or nurse frequently at night. Never let your child carry around a sippy cup or bottle filled with anything but water.
- Wean off the bottle by 12 months of age.
Is fluoride safe for kids?
Yes. The American Dental Association recommends that as soon as a baby has a tooth it be brushed with a grain of rice-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste twice daily. In addition, it is helpful for children to have topical applications of fluoride to their teeth once every 3-6 months and for older kids to eat a fluoride-containing vitamin if living in an area that does not have fluoridated water like Wichita.
For some great guidance on kids oral health the American Academy of pediatrics has great information at: healthychildren.org (search term “oral health”)
Happy Brushing! — Dr. Reddy