Babies may get decay from going to bed with a bottle of milk, formula or juice. Unrestricted at-will breast-feeding at night may increase the risk of tooth decay as well.
Primary teeth are very important for a child's development. Some primary (or baby) teeth will be in your child's mouth until age 12. If teeth are not cared for, your child's ability to chew food properly will be compromised which can limit his or her ability to meet their dietary requirements.
If primary teeth fall out prematurely due to lack of care or treatment, general growth and development are compromised. The presence of teeth helps to guide proper growth and development of a child's head and neck. Primary teeth also guide the permanent teeth into a better position which may help to eliminate the need and expense of orthodontic intervention later in life.
If you give your child a bottle at bedtime, stopping all at once will not be easy. Here are some tips:
1. Put plain water in the bottle.
2. If your child gets upset, do not give up. Comfort the child and keep on trying
3. If this does not work, try watering down your child's bottle over a week or two, until there is only plain water left.
Once your child has teeth, lift his or her lips once a month and check the teeth. Look for chalky white spots or lines on the teeth specifically along gum line of the front teeth. Darkened areas on teeth can also be a sign of tooth decay. If you see any signs, go to the dentist right away. Early childhood tooth decay must be treated quickly.
Parents and caregivers should start oral hygiene practices as soon as a baby is born by using damp gauze to wipe the mouth and gums pads after feedings. Once teeth start to erupt, introduce tooth brushing with a very soft toothbrush made for children.
The Canadian Dental Association recommends the assessment of infants, by a dentist, within 6 months of the eruption of the first tooth or by one year of age. The goal is to have your child visit the dentist before there is a problem with his or her teeth.