Baby caries means, tooth decay in babies and toddlers. Babies have deciduous teeth with thinner enamel, that’s why it’s more prone to caries. And so, parents should try every possible way to prevent dental caries.
Baby caries is professionally termed Early Childhood Caries. It is also known as Nursing bottle caries and Baby bottle tooth decay. It is primarily caused by the accumulation of dental plaque, bacterial colonization, infant feeding patterns, improper tooth brushing, salivary factors, and fluoride intake.
At the initial stage, caries appear yellowish or brownish in color. Thereafter, when the infection progresses, it leads to blackish discoloration. It causes pain and hampers the child’s facial appearance as well. Prevention of baby teeth is far better than undergoing costly treatments.
Baby caries could be prevented by maintaining good oral hygiene and adequate dietary habits.
15 Tips on How to Prevent Baby Caries
1. As soon as the first tooth erupts, including the habit of cleaning/brushing the teeth of a child. You can use a softer baby brush or a wet soft cloth to clean teeth along with gums.
2. Never put your baby to bed with a bottle.
3. Don’t give sweetened things such as jam, honey, sugar, or jaggery in a baby bottle.
4. Start teaching your child to have water or milk with a feeding cup, after the baby is of six months of age. A feeding cup is safer than baby bottles.
5. Avoid giving fruit juices or any other sweetened drink as it consists of a high sugar content.
6. When children start eating solid foods, give them a wide variety of foods loaded with nutrients. The healthy foods for teeth are – Milk, plain yogurt, nuts, green leafy vegetables like cabbage, lettuce, broccoli, spinach, and whole grains. Fiber-rich fruits healthy for teeth are – figs, apples, avocados, peaches, and apricots.
7. Small babies suck on dummies or pacifiers for a longer duration. So, always keep in mind not to dip dummies or pacifiers ever in sweetened things like honey or jam.
8. Use fluoride toothpaste for cleaning or brushing a child’s teeth. At first, a small pea-sized amount of toothpaste is enough for 18 months of children to six years of age. After that, a pea-sized amount of toothpaste is good for children above six years of age.
9. Decrease the sweetness level in the solid or fluid intake of the child.
10. After every meal, give the baby some water to drink.
11. Don’t kiss the child directly on the lips, as cariogenic bacteria is more in the saliva of adults that get transmitted to the child.
12. It is advised to have a dental checkup from a dental professional for early detection of caries.
13. Foods with high fiber content such as peanuts, lentils, dried fruits, berries, and apples are good to reduce the chances of tooth decay.
14. Avoid giving sticky food items such as candies, cookies, and chips to toddlers and kids.
15. An early sign of baby caries is the appearance of white spots at the gumline of the upper front teeth. You can detect early and start prevention measures.
If early childhood caries affects your child or baby, you can seek a professional approach –
- Restoration of affected teeth
- Use of chlorhexidine or fluoride varnish
- Extraction of a decayed tooth, followed by space maintainers to keep the position of permanent teeth.
- Education program regarding dental health and care
- Proper brushing habits
- Use of fluoride supplements
Baby teeth are very important. It helps babies to eat, to speak and guides the eruption of permanent teeth as well. If a baby’s teeth get decayed, it could lead to misaligned permanent teeth, pain to the baby, and premature shedding. Therefore, it’s important to prevent dental caries in babies and toddlers.