As with many good habits, oral health starts from the crib. Parents who take their kids to the dentist to have their tooth development monitored and teach their proper oral hygiene are ensuring their children will enjoy excellent oral health well into adulthood. Dr. Kim C. Norman, DDS, can look after the dental concerns of all members of the family.

Children’s oral health is affected by many problems such as tooth decay, thumb sucking, tongue thrusting, lip sucking, and early tooth loss. Although baby teeth (or deciduous teeth) are eventually replaced by permanent teeth, a baby’s overall health and well-being can be assured by keeping baby teeth healthy. Studies have shown that oral health affects our total wellness, and babies are no exception.

One of the most common problems affecting the oral health development of very young children is baby bottle tooth decay—which is also known as childhood caries, nursing caries, or nursing bottle syndrome. When a baby’s teeth have constant contact with sugars from carbohydrates provided by various liquid formulas, tooth decay ensues. On the other hand, a mother’s breast milk can also cause tooth decay. If a baby’s teeth are not cleaned properly, the bacteria produced by these sugars can cause tooth decay.

Baby teeth serve as space savers for permanent teeth. If they are damaged or destroyed prematurely, they will not be able to guide permanent teeth into their proper position. This can result in crooked or crowded permanent teeth. In addition, badly decayed baby teeth can also lead to infections, which can spread to other parts of a baby’s vulnerable body. Parents can always consult us to help us guide them in the proper care of their babies’ teeth.

There are many ways to prevent baby bottle tooth decay. Foremost among these preventative measures is substituting plain water or pacifiers for sugary liquids or milk. Many parents give their infants sugar liquids or milk to calm them down when they are upset. Also, at bedtime, parent shouldn’t put their babies to sleep with a bottle filled with sugary liquids, as plain water will suffice. Most importantly, parents should use a wet cloth or gauze to wipe the baby’s teeth and gums after each feeding.

Aside from these measures, parents should also seek the assistance of a dentist parents consider trustworthy, not just to monitor their children’s tooth development, but to provide fluoride as needed. This is especially important if your drinking water is not fluoridated. Dental care has no age limit, and monitoring the health and development of deciduous teeth will ensure healthy permanent adult teeth later on.