Baby teeth need to be babied

March 3, 2015 Providence Health Team

Baby those baby teethOral health is an important part of your children’s overall health. But, because baby teeth eventually fall out, they often don’t get the attention they deserve. Baby teeth need to be babied. Decay in baby teeth may cause lifelong oral health problems. The germs that cause cavities in baby teeth can lead to cavities in adult teeth, affecting your child’s smile and overall health even when they are adults.

Baby teeth impact adult teeth

Baby teeth matter. They’re important to a child who is just learning to eat and speak, and they help guide adult teeth into place. For children, the importance of a healthy, cavity-free mouth extends well in adulthood. 

Cavities are caused by infectious germs 

Most people don’t know that cavities are caused by germs – and these cavity-causing germs are infectious. The germs can actually be spread via saliva (typically from moms to babies) by sharing food, utensils, or even kisses. These germs can also lead to significant, ongoing problems with adult or permanent teeth.

Here’s the good news. Kids don’t have to get cavities. Starting early with good home care and regular checkups will help to ensure your child enjoys a lifetime of better oral health. Plus, it makes sense to prevent cavities, rather than pay to fix them.

Tips to protect your child’s teeth

Cavities are preventable

  • By age 1, take your child to a dentist or physician for an oral health checkup.
  • If you put your baby to sleep with a bottle, use only water.
  • Brush your child’s teeth twice a day.
  • Use a small toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. Use a rice-sized amount of toothpaste until your child is 3 and then a pea-sized amount.
  • Start flossing as soon as teeth touch.                                      
  • Fluoride strengthens teeth enamel. Ask your child’s dentist or primary care provider about fluoride varnish, which is painted on the teeth to prevent or heal early decay.

Healthy snacking = healthier teeth

  • Choose healthy snacks such as cheese, fruits and vegetables.
  • Sweet liquids including juice, sport drinks and soda (even diet) cause cavities.
  • Avoid “grazing” – snacking and drinking sweet liquids throughout the day.
  • After eating, the germs in your mouth make acid that attack teeth for 20 minutes.
  • Teeth need time to rest in between eating and drinking.

Additional resources

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