Tooth Decay in Baby Teeth: What Parents Should Know

April 15, 2020

When it comes to baby teeth, many parents unintentionally fall short with their oral hygiene simply because they aren’t aware of the current recommendations. A common misconception is that baby teeth are not as important as permanent teeth. The baby teeth are very important for chewing, speaking and appearance. They also help hold space in the jaws for the permanent teeth. When left untreated, they can cause pain, ear and speech problems, crooked permanent teeth and interfere with daily activities.

Tooth Decay
Unfortunately, tooth decay among children is common. According to the CDC, 42% of children two to 11 have had dental cavities in their primary teeth. And even though tooth decay is preventable, it is still one of the most common childhood diseases. As mentioned before, if tooth decay is not remedied, it can result in pain, infection or tooth loss.

In the early stages of life, one of the easiest ways to prevent tooth decay, is to never let your child fall asleep with a bottle or sippy cup. Baby bottle tooth decay is caused by frequent and long exposures of a baby’s teeth to liquids that contain sugar, such as milk, formula, or juice. As your child gets older, allow a balanced diet and good nutrition to maintain healthy gums, reduce the amount of soft drinks and sugary juices and establish a good oral care routine early on.

Dental Check Ups
Next, your child should visit their dentist regularly. The American Dental Association and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends your child’s first dental visit should be when the first tooth erupts in the mouth (usually takes place between 6 months and 1 year of age). Unless instructed otherwise by your child’s dentist, a check-up every six months is recommended in order prevent cavities and other dental problems.

Brushing Routine
Brushing should get extra attention at an early age. The ADA recommends brushing your child’s teeth for two minutes at least twice a day, unless otherwise directed by your dentist. We suggest brushing right when they wake up and right before they go to bed.

Sometimes it can be a struggle to get young children to brush their teeth and it’s important to supervise your children while they brush. Whether they’re acting more independent, or even if you are trying to teach them to be more independent, they really shouldn’t brush alone until they possess the proper motor skills for effective brushing. This usually happens between the ages of 6 and 9, or possibly when they can tie their own shoes. If you are still unsure, parents should actively inspect their child’s teeth for cleanliness.

Here are some tips that can help reach the recommended two-minute brushing time, twice a day:

– Let them pick out their toothbrush and rinse cup
– Set a timer and make it a game
– Make a tooth brushing chart and reward them with stickers
– Play their favorite song and brush until it’s time to stop

Need to brush up on brushing techniques? Click here.