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  • Early Childhood Tooth Decay


    Before: Child with rampant decay on front teeth

    After: Teeth restored with white facing crowns

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    Early childhood tooth decay is the most common chronic childhood disease in America. Multiple specific types of bacteria which live on the teeth can cause tooth decay. When sugar is consumed, it is used by the bacteria to make acids which eat away the teeth, causing an infection referred to as decay. Childhood tooth decay can be prevented by proper brushing and flossing and regular visits to a pediatric dentist.

    Infant Tooth Decay, also known as Early Childhood Caries (ECC), occurs when sugars in breastmilk, formula, and juice come into contact with a baby’s teeth for a long period of time. Infant tooth decay often results when babies are put to sleep with a bottle. When babies fall asleep with a bottle or sippy cup, the sleeping baby can not clear the liquid from their mouths. The sugars in the formula, milk, or juice are left in contact with the baby’s teeth for a long period of time during the night or naptime; this can cause rapid tooth decay.

    Avoid Baby Tooth Decay, Tips and Suggestions for healthy baby teeth:

    • Use a damp, soft cloth or a soft-bristled toothbrush to clean your baby’s teeth at least twice a day
    • Never put your baby to bed with a bottle filled with milk or juice.
    • When your child is asleep, stop nursing and clean teeth with a damp washcloth.
    • Read, sing, or rock your child to sleep in place of continuous feeding.
    • Don’t let your child use a sippy cup or bottle as a pacifier.
    • Teach your child to use a cup at an early age. Plan to stop using a bottle by the time your child is twelve to fourteen months old.
    • Do not dip your child’s pacifier in sugar or honey.
    • Starting at age six months, fluoride supplements may be used to help keep teeth strong

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    What is Fluoride?

    Fluoride is a natural mineral that helps prevent tooth decay by hardening the enamel on baby teeth and emerging adult teeth. Many communities’ public water supplies are fluoridated. Fluoride supplements in the form of drops or tablets are available for children whose water is not fluoridated. It is important to know the fluoride content of your water before giving your child fluoride supplements, as too much fluoride can cause spots on the teeth. For children without fluoridated water, a fluoride supplement may be used beginning when children are six months old and should be used until the child is 12 to 16 years old.

    To learn more about fluoride, and to schedule a cleaning for your child or baby, call or visit Burg Children’s Dentistry at any one of our eight convenient locations.