5 Tips To Prevent Feeding Bottle Infection In Toddlers
Neglecting your little one’s baby teeth can lead to dental problems later. Find out how you can prevent such tooth decay in your child. Also learn about tooth-friendly food to prevent tooth decay.
By Monali Bordoloi
Three-year-old Surbhi Goel loves to drink fruit juices. Months ago, she showed her mother one dull white line over her two front teeth. Her mother dismissed it thinking baby teeth will eventually fall out and replaced. Of late, Surbhi has difficulty in chewing food, then slowly, she started developing pain in her two front teeth. Now, her front teeth are all broken and blackish. A visit to the dentist confirmed that she has tooth decay.
Like Surbhi, many toddlers and preschoolers suffer from tooth decay in their baby tooth due to too much of sugary food.
Howver, some parents tend to ignore primary tooth decay in children thinking these teeth anyway will shed off in a few years. However, Dr Priyanka Goyat of Rejove Clinique, New Delhi, does not agree. She says, “It is of utmost importance that we take care of primary or baby teeth of our children. Good care of primary teeth will lead to healthier gums and better permanent teeth in the future. These baby teeth also help in your child’s ability to speak.”
The thinner and softer enamel in baby’s teeth also makes them more at risk for dental infection. The good news is that such tooth decay in babies is preventable.
How your toddler gets tooth decay?
- When milk, fruit juice or formula food or any other sugar-heavy food stick to your child’s teeth for a long time, bacteria in the mouth feed on that sugar and produce acids which in turn attack the teeth.
- Generally, the upper front two teeth are affected by the decay. However, sometimes, other teeth may also be affected.
Symptoms of tooth decay:
Tooth decay develops over time. Some of the first signs of the decay are:
- As a first sign, a dull white line will appear on the surface of the teeth. Generally, most parents ignore it and it remains undetected.
- A yellow, brown or black band will appear on the tooth surface, it will be closer to the gum. This suggests progression of the tooth decay.
- When the decay reaches its advanced stage, the teeth look like blackish or brownish stumps.
What parents can do:
- Do not give sugary food or drink before bedtime. During daytime, saliva washes away the sugar from the mouth, but during the night, the flow of saliva decreases. So the sugar from the food or drinks stays in the mouth.
- If you are giving any sugar-laden drink or sweets before bed, make sure that your child brushes his teeth. For infants and toddlers, you can give plain water to rinse the mouth.
Tooth-friendly food for your child:
Encourage your child to eat the following food, apart from being nutritious, these foods are known to be good for dental health.
- All leafy vegetables
Tips to prevent tooth decay in infants:
- Don’t put milk bottle in your infant’s mouth just to calm her. Milk should be given only at meal-time, not throughout the day. Fill her bottle with some water if you want to calm her down.
- If your baby is using a pacifier, don’t dip it in honey or sugar.
- If you are adding sugar to your baby’s food to enhance the taste, stop doing that. It will affect his teeth.
- After you finish feeding, gently wipe your baby’s gums using a clean wet cloth. It will remove the leftover food and sugars from the gums, which will prevent the growth of bacteria.
- Clean your baby’s mouth and gums with your fingers. You can use soft brushes too without toothpaste.
Tips to prevent tooth decay in toddlers:
- Teach your preschoolers how to brush their teeth early on. Tell them that good oral hygiene keeps the bacteria at bay.
- Encourage your child to brush two times in a day; morning and before bed and for two minutes each.
- Teach your child how to floss once all her teeth come in.
- Make sure that your child’s toothpaste has fluoride as it helps prevent cavities.
- Check inside of your preschooler’s mouth regularly, if there is any teeth discolouration or bad breath, visit a dentist for a checkup.
Treatment for tooth decay:
Even if you want to do it, it's not possible to get rid of all the bacteria that cause tooth decay in your child. However, you can keep those bacteria in control. With proper dental care, you can even repair the wear and tear of your child’s teeth.
Dr Priyanka Goyat adds, “Treatment for advanced tooth decay are the same for both children and adults. Most of these treatments are painless. Type and length of the treatment depend on the severity of the decay. Most of the tooth decay in children can be treated by a procedure known as restorative filling. In some severe cases of tooth decay when the infection reaches the nerve, we recommend root canal treatment. These treatments may require putting crowns over the infected tooth. It only adds to the beautiful smile of your child.”
About the author:
Written by Monali Bordoloi on 26 April 2018.
About the expert:
Dr Priyanka Goyat is a dentist at Rejove Clinique, New Delhi.
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