What You Need To Know About Infant And Toddler Dental Care

The widespread prevalence of tooth decay among young children has reached epidemic proportions according to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. The root of this serious health issue stems from a variety of problems caused by lack of proper dental care at an early age and common parental practices. If you want make sure your child is less vulnerable to cavities, misaligned teeth and jaw problems, take the time to learn about early childhood oral health issues and preventative dental care.

Common Dental Problems Among Infants and Toddlers

Tooth decay is a chronic problem even among toddlers. Nearly a quarter of children in the U.S. between the ages of 2 and 11 have a decay-infected primary tooth. The main causes of rotten teeth in toddlers include baby bottle tooth decay, overuse of pacifiers and dental neglect.

Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

Putting a child to bed still sucking a bottle is a common practice among parents to keep children settled as they fall asleep. However, letting your young one sleep with the bottle in their mouth allows bacteria to develop. The bacteria causes enamel erosion, cavities and abscessed teeth.

As an adult, you know how painful a cavity can be. You do not want to subject your child to that trauma.

Bacteria can also spread to the tooth nerve and enter a child's bloodstream. In addition, letting a child keep a sippy cup with sugary liquids for an extended time encourages the growth of bacteria.

Problems With Pacifiers

A pacifier is a necessary tool to keep a child calm as they teethe. However, if you allow your child to suck on a pacifier well into toddlerhood and after primary teeth begin to fall out, your child's teeth may become misaligned.

In addition, long-term pacifier sucking also affects the position of the jaw and the shape of the mouth roof. You should also refrain from coating a pacifier with sweet liquids or honey to help calm a crying child. You are only creating a breeding ground for bacteria.

Lack of Dental Care

The presence of dental cavities is considered a disease among health professionals. When you do not provide your child with basic oral care, you put your child's health at risk.

Dentists recommend that you take your child to their first dental appointment before their first birthday. This will give a pediatric dentist a chance look for signs of decay in baby teeth and other issues. The dentist can also teach you how to clean your child's primary teeth and advise you on a schedule of regular checkups.

Preventative Care

In addition to making sure you schedule a child's dental visit within 12 months of giving birth, you should be vigilant about cleaning your child's mouth before teeth arrive.

  • Purchase an infant toothbrush or use a soft cloth to clean the gums of a small child.
  • Add mouth cleaning to your regular bath time routine.
  • Use a pea size amount of fluoridated toothpaste to brush teeth gently twice a day when primary teeth begin to emerge. You may also be able to find rubber thimbles in a store's baby section that can be used to clean teeth.
  • Add flossing to the regimen when teeth begin to touch each other.
  • If your child does not like getting their teeth cleaned, sing a song they like as you brush their teeth to help keep them still and calm.

While the statistics that prove the pervasiveness of dental decay among children are startling, your kids do not have to be among those sobering numbers if you begin taking care of their teeth when you can still hold them in your arms.

Furthermore, think about the dental bills that you will have to pay when they are older to take care of cavities, crooked teeth and other issues if you do not begin an oral healthcare early. Click here to read more.