Your child's baby teeth are important. Children need strong, healthy teeth to chew their food, speak and have a good-looking smile. Baby teeth also keep a space in the jaw for the adult teeth. If a baby tooth is lost too early, the teeth beside it may drift into the empty space. When it's time for the adult teeth to come in, there may not be enough room. This can make the teeth crooked or crowded. Starting infants off with good oral care can help protect their teeth for decades to come.
Your child’s baby teeth are at risk for decay as soon as they first appear-which is typically around age six months. Tooth decay in infants and toddlers is often referred to as Baby Bottle Tooth Decay or Early Childhood Caries (cavities). It most often occurs in the upper front teeth, but other teeth may also be affected. In some unfortunate cases, infants and toddlers have experienced decay so severe that the teeth cannot be repaired and need to be removed. The good news is that decay is preventable.
Another factor for tooth decay is the frequent, prolonged exposure of the baby’s teeth to liquids that contain sugar, like sweetened water and fruit juice and potentially milk, breast milk and formula. Tooth decay can occur when the baby is put to bed with a bottle, or when a bottle is used as a pacifier for a fussy baby. The sugary liquids pool around the teeth while the child sleeps. Bacteria in the mouth use these sugars as food. They then produce acids that attack the teeth. Each time your child drinks these liquids, acids attack for 20 minutes or longer. After multiple attacks, the teeth can decay.
A team of scientists from The Ohio State University has examined the stress levels of parents whose young children either had no cavities or so many cavities that the children had to receive anesthesia before undergoing dental treatment.
The investigators presented their findings during the 87th General Session of the International Association for Dental Research.
The team also looked at the parents' education levels and income, and noted if they were single parents. Finally, they measured the parents' stress levels again after the children had received dental treatment.
As they expected, they found that low income, having little education, and being a single parent led to increases in parental stress. They also discovered that the more stressed parents are, the more likely their children were to have decay. Last, they found that apparently having one's child's dental decay treated actually could decrease the stress of being a parent.
It now appears that dental professionals need to be ready not only to repair childhood decay, but also to assist families in finding the help they need to decrease the stress of life.