Your baby’s teeth won’t last forever, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take care of them. Baby teeth are important for a number of reasons. They help set the stage for later development of adult teeth. Decay, infection, and other oral health problems could seriously injure baby – leading to long-term damage.
Protect Your Child Against Baby Bottle Tooth Decay
Your child probably loves to eat. Baby needs lots of nutrition, but that doesn’t mean that you should keep a bottle in his or her mouth all day long. Baby bottle tooth decay happens when your baby is frequently exposed to sugary liquids. Usually, this happens when parents placate children by always giving them a bottle to suck on.
While this might assuage fussiness, it does nothing for the health of the baby’s teeth. Every time a child drinks a sugary liquid, the acid produced by the bacteria in the child’s mouth begins to attack the enamel of the teeth. This is a natural process as far as the bacteria is concerned. They eat the sugars in the liquid and, ad a waste product, produce the acid.
You raise the risk for bottle tooth decay when you feed your child at night, or give them a bottle with nap time. That’s because saliva flow decreases during sleep and makes baby more prone to the beginnings of tooth decay.
Of course, preventing bottle tooth decay is easy. According to a family dentist from Long Island, it’s as simple as not allowing your child to fall asleep with a bottle in his mouth. Never feed them sweetened liquids, like juice or even milk, immediately before bed.
Clean and massage the baby’s gums to help establish healthy teeth and to aid in teething.
You can also wrap a moistened gauze square around your finger and gently massage the gums and tissues. This should be done after every feeding. It will help soak up excess milk, get the baby swallowing, and protect the new teeth that are coming in.
Pros and Cons Of Pacifiers
Pacifiers can be one of the greatest investments for a new parent. The endless fussing and crying is enough to drive some parents absolutely crazy – but there’s a dark side to pacifiers.
Children who use them beyond age 2 can develop alignment issues with teeth. That’s because the constant sucking as the teeth are coming in push the teeth into an unnatural position. There is also an association between pacifier use and acute middle ear infections.
There is some good news about pacifiers though. Some studies suggest that is can reduce the incidence of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
Caring For Baby Teeth
Caring for your child’s new teeth isn’t all that difficult. Keep them clean after meals, and stay in contact with your dentist. Between the ages of 6 months and 3 years, your child might experience some sore gum problems while the primary teeth are being cut. After about age 5 or 6, your child will start losing those teeth because the adult teeth are pushing through. In the early years, however, be on the lookout of abnormal tooth development. If you notice a lack of appetite, your child sucking on toys or other objects (that the child normally doesn’t suck on), coughing, upset tummy, crankiness, or excessive drooling, take your child to the dentist. It might be a syptom of a larger problem.
Finally, never pull primary teeth until they are ready. Some parents try to pull them prematurely, but this can cause problems with correct adult tooth alignment.
Robert Ander has a passion for pediatric dental health. He enjoys blogging about tips for general care and common problems.