Prevention is the key to keeping childhood cavities to a minimum and the sooner it starts, the better. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that parents introduce their children to a pediatric dentist as soon as the baby teeth start to appear.
There is a standard of progression as far as tooth development and eruption is concerned but there is also room for variation. The only way to be sure that your child’s baby teeth are erupting as they should is by scheduling regular appointments with a pediatric dentist. Monitoring and recording the development will provide your dentist with an excellent source of future reference.
Establishing an early relationship with a pediatric dentist is an excellent preventive measure but home care and daily habits are important as well, beginning with your own. Breastfeeding is a natural way to provide your baby with the nutrients that he needs for healthy development but you will need to take some precautions if you continue to breastfeed as his teeth begin to arrive. The sugar content in the breast milk is high enough to cause tooth decay. Pediatric dentists recommend that mothers use a soft cloth to wipe away any excess milk after every feeding.
The same principle holds true when your baby switches over to a bottle. Overexposure to the sugar in baby formula or juices can erode tooth enamel and lead to decay. If your baby seems to fall asleep easier with a nighttime bottle be sure it is filled with pure sugarless water. A cup of juice is fine with meals but sipping all day should be a “no-no.”
It may surprise you to know that children as young as two years of age are already drinking soda pop on a daily basis. The sugar and acids in carbonated drinks are especially harmful to new and sensitive teeth. Water is again the healthier alternative – add some fresh fruit for flavor.