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The Importance of Protecting Baby Teeth

The Importance of Protecting Baby Teeth

Many parents fail to recognize the importance of keeping their child’s baby teeth healthy. They neglect regular dental check-ups and detailed care until the child begins to develop their permanent set of teeth. The lack of care for baby teeth not only affects the immediate oral health of a child, but runs the risk of dental problems that will follow the child well into their adult life. It’s important for parents to be aware of the various unhealthy tooth conditions that can develop during these crucial years of a child’s life. Parents must be intentional to familiarize themselves with the causes of these conditions. 

dentist showing decay in child’s mouth

Tooth decay and cavities are not uncommon among children

These conditions can threaten the health of baby teeth as soon as the first few teeth grow in. Baby tooth decay generally happens in the upper front teeth. Decay breaks down the enamel and develops small holes. This often causes visible tooth staining and pits as well as sensitivity/pain when eating or drinking.

Juice bottle of apple juice

So what causes these conditions?

Often, there are high levels of both natural and artificial sweeteners in the milk. Formulas and juices that babies consume in their first few years can become harmful. The bacteria that lives in the mouth will feed on this sugar. It then produces acids that will attack and break down teeth. While it may seem unnecessary to care for teeth that are temporary, these baby teeth are actually the blueprints for permanent teeth! Contrary to popular belief, baby tooth decay can affect long term speech, eating habits, early tooth loss and increase the chance of crooked adult teeth. 


Child drinking water in place of sugary drinks

Establishing Healthy Habits

The good news is that there are many preventative measures one can take to ensure that these conditions do not develop. At age 1, your child should begin regular visits to the dentist for thorough cleanings, sealant coatings, and simply to ensure development is on track. At home, brushing and flossing are the most basic and effective practices for baby teeth health. Regular cleaning will remove the sugar that is prone to decay teeth. While the child is still growing teeth, massaging the gums and wiping them down after feeding is important to prepare for the teeth to grow. In addition, limiting the amount of sugar your child consumes is crucial, especially before bedtime. An easy way to do this is to make water the primary liquid that your child consumes. Dilute any other sugary drink with water to mitigate the negative effects of sugar on the teeth. 
Implementing these simple practices into your child’s daily care routine will defend against immediate oral problems. Establish good habits early on and contribute to a healthier, happier smile down the road.

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