Parents should be wary about pediatric tooth decay
SUMMARY: Although some parents may not think of it, tooth decay is a major concern in young toddlers.
Posted: July 10, 2013
In a 2010 study by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, a whopping 97 percent of parents didn't know that infants should visit a pediatric dentist during their first year of life. But experts urge parents to take charge and make sure that their child's mouth is healthy and clean from a young age. While some parents will not be as concerned when their child only has a few teeth, doctors say that even if they are not showing, teeth could begin developing under the gums. Because of the extremely common issue of tooth decay in young children, parents shouldn't wait any longer to ensure kids' teeth are healthy.
Begin at a young age
Parents should make sure to schedule their first dental appointment between the ages of three and nine months, which is typically when the first tooth erupts. The rule of thumb is that kids should visit the dentist at least once before reaching their first birthday, according to AAPD. Despite the common misconception that only adults can suffer from bad breath, kids are actually very prone to halitosis because of tooth decay and the accumulation of bacteria in the mouth. Luckily, these ailments are almost entirely preventable.
By beginning with an early visit to the dentist, parents can help to avoid cavity treatments for their children later in life. In fact, the prevention begins before the child is even born. Expectant mothers should take extra precautions to have a clean mouth because the accumulation of anaerobic bacteria in the mouth can cause problems during pregnancy. Additionally, mothers should be extra careful to keep a baby's mouth clean after each feeding.
Anaerobic bacteria live in the mouth and produce acid, which causes tooth decay, cavities, gum disease and bad breath. As soon as baby's first tooth erupts from the gums, bacteria form plaque on the tooth. This leads to an increased level of acid and a slew of problems. Babies as young as five to six months can experience the onset of oral health issues.
"We were astounded that only one-third (33 percent) of moms considered oral health a concern for their infants," said AAPD President Dr. Berlocher. "Parents will be surprised to know that taking children to visit a pediatric dentist by their first birthday actually saves money. Studies show that dental costs for children who have their first dental visit before age one are 40 percent lower in the first five years than for those who do not see a dentist prior to their first birthday."
According to the AAPD survey taken in 2010, 88 percent of mothers were concerned about the possibility of their children needing cavity treatments, but 45 percent said they didn't regularly clean their children's mouths. Here are a few suggestions from the association to keep your baby's gums and teeth healthy and clean:
- Children who are older than six mouths should have fluoride supplements if they are not drinking water with enough fluoride. This can reduce the probability of developing tooth decay by as much as 50 percent.
- Breastfeeding should be ceased after the baby's first tooth appears to decrease chances of bacterial infection from the milk.
- Between 12 and 14 months, infants should be weaned off of bottles to protect the teeth. Infants should drink out of a sippy cup by this age.
- Parents should not clean pacifiers with their own saliva because this can spread anaerobic bacteria and cause a number of issues, including bad breath and gum disease.
While some kids may not like brushing at first, dentists urge parents to continue brushing to prevent tooth decay in the future. Developing a routine can make this situation much easier as time goes on.