It is recommended for children to have their first dental check-up and dental examination as soon as their first baby tooth emerges (6-9 months). This first visit to the dentist will help the child become accustomed to the environment, the dental team, and the dentist, which will reduce anxiety during future dental treatments. The dentist can monitor the child with check-ups every 6 months, advise the family on incorrect eating habits, and raise awareness of preventative measures against decay.
As soon as the first baby teeth appear in the mouth, they should be cleaned after each feeding. Infants who consume foods with a high risk of decay, while food particles remain on their teeth as they fall asleep, their teeth quickly demineralize and decay due to the reduction of saliva flow during sleep. Special newborn, 0-2-year-old brushes produced by various companies can be used to clean the baby’s teeth.
DECAY IN BABY TEETH
Brown spots can sometimes appear on a baby’s teeth, or these teeth may break and fall out. These decays, which are observed in children who are fed with a bottle for a long time, are called “bottle decay”. Initially, the upper front teeth are affected in bottle decay. Decays usually begin in the back of teeth, which are difficult to see. Then, the upper back teeth are affected, followed by the lower back teeth. Lower incisors are usually not affected by this condition because they are protected by the tongue and are not exposed to liquids in the mouth and destructive effects of bacteria.
If a baby sucks on breast milk or a bottle before sleeping or during sleep, the milk accumulates in the mouth and creates a suitable environment for bacteria to decay teeth. Therefore, it is essential to be careful about cleaning teeth, especially after night feeding.
If the decays in bottle decay are left untreated, they can cause pain and inflammation. Inflamed or painful teeth can cause the baby to become restless and disrupt the feeding routine. Infection can also affect the permanent teeth that will come from under the teeth, resulting in deformed shapes. If these teeth have to be extracted, speech problems may occur in the child.
WHAT SHOULD BE DONE TO PREVENT BOTTLE DECAY?
Since it is difficult to treat decays that occur in infants, preventive measures should be taken early.
-Prevent your baby from sleeping with a bottle in their mouth at night.
-Do not add sugar, honey, or molasses to milk and baby food, and do not dip the pacifier in honey or jam.
-Always give your baby water after feeding.
-Clean the teeth with a clean, damp cloth after feeding when the first teeth begin to emerge, and massage the gums.
-Be careful to clean teeth, especially after night feeding. Bottle feeding should gradually be discontinued after the age of one.
NUTRITION FOR CHILDREN
What your child eats, as well as when and how often they eat, is important for their dental health. Balanced nutrition is important for long-term dental health. Carbohydrate-containing foods that remain in the mouth and on the tooth surface for a long time can cause tooth decay. Bacteria in the mouth feed on these carbohydrates and produce acid. This acid affects the enamel layer of the tooth, starting the formation of cavities. During the time between meals, saliva helps to neutralize this acid. Having the habit of eating frequently can cause the mouth to become acidic and more susceptible to tooth decay. To prevent this, the following should be done:
1- Give your child healthy foods such as fresh fruits, vegetables, or cheese.
2- Buy foods that do not contain sugar or have sugar added.
3- Give sugary or starchy foods after meals, not as snacks.
4- Encourage your child to use xylitol-containing or sugar-free gum.
5- Encourage less snacking. Frequent snacking leads to an increase in acid formation in the mouth that persists for a long time.
6- Do not give your child fruit juice or acidic drinks before bedtime.