Oral Hygiene

Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

February 21st, 2022

Baby bottle tooth decay, also known as early childhood caries, refers to tooth decay in infants and toddlers. Your child needs strong, healthy primary teeth to properly chew food, to learn to speak, and to hold space until permanent teeth come in. That’s why preventing baby bottle tooth decay is very important.

The Causes of Tooth Decay in Children

There are a few risk factors when it comes to children’s tooth decay. A common cause is the frequent and prolonged exposure of your child’s teeth to sugary drinks, including milk, formula, and fruit juice. Bacteria in the mouth thrive on sugar and produce acids that attack the teeth. Giving you child a sugary drink at nap or nighttime can be especially harmful, because the flow of saliva decreases during sleep.

Tooth decay can also be caused by bacteria passed from you to your baby through saliva by sharing spoons, testing foods before feeding them to your baby, and cleaning off a pacifier in your mouth instead of with water. These germs can start the process that causes cavities even before your baby’s primary teeth emerge. This is even more reason to take care of your teeth too!

While less common, tooth decay can happen if your infant or toddler does not get enough fluoride in their diet, such as when you only drink bottled water or don’t have access to municipal or city water that is fluoridated for everyone. Your pediatric dentist may prescribe fluoride supplements to help prevent tooth decay.

Tooth Decay Prevention                              

The good news about baby bottle tooth decay is that it’s preventable!

  • After each feeding, wipe your infant's gums with a clean, damp gauze pad or washcloth, which helps clean and establish a routine for good oral hygiene
  • When your child’s teeth come in, brush them gently with a child-size toothbrush and a smear (or grain of rice-size amount) of fluoride toothpaste.
  • Place only formula, milk, or breast milk in bottles. Do not fill the bottle with liquids such as sugar water, chocolate milk, juice, tea, or soft drinks.
  • Make sure infants finish their bedtime or nap time bottles before putting them to bed.
  • If your child uses a pacifier, provide one that is clean.
  • Encourage your child to drink from a cup by his/her first birthday.
  • Encourage healthy eating habits.

Nourish Your Body, Not the Sugar Bugs!

February 8th, 2022

When we are feeding our kids, teeth are often the least of our worries. But hear us out – generally what is good for their bodies is also good for their teeth. The cavity-causing culprit is sugar, and sugar is added to nearly 70% of all foods sold in the grocery store. While it tastes great, whenever we enjoy any food or drink with sugar, the bacteria in our mouths also enjoy the snack. These bacteria – we like to call them sugar bugs – make themselves at home on your teeth, gums, and tongue, building making themselves at home in the form of plaque. After eating the sugar, bacteria make acid, which pulls minerals out of our teeth causing cavities. 

If you don’t brush and floss the sugar bugs away each day, the bacteria continue to weaken teeth, eventually causing cavities. Once cavities get large or deep enough, they can cause pain and infection.

Even with good brushing and flossing, constant exposure to sugar, even just a little bit, will do a number on your teeth. The best oral health practice for all children – and adults – is to eliminate as much sugar as possible when you eat and drink. 

Our number one suggestion - don’t bring food and drinks high in sugar in the house. Easier said than done, but eliminating the option entirely for both parents and kids will lead to infinitely better health and happiness! 

Snacks That Keep Teeth Clean & Healthy

The good news is that you can control how much sugar you bring into the house, and there are plenty of snack and lunch options that are good to your teeth! 

Crunchy, raw fruits and vegetables, such as apples and carrots, can help remove bacteria that live on the surface of teeth. Celery, pears, and cucumbers that have high water content also help clean teeth and promote overall health.

Lean meats, such as chicken, turkey, and white fish are a good source of protein, which helps strengthen tooth enamel. 

Dairy products such as sugar-free yogurts and milks are excellent sources of calcium, which is crucial for building strong teeth. 

Cheese is also an excellent snack and can actually help prevent cavities!

Additional Tips:

Drink Water, Not Juice. If there’s one change you can make, it’s to stop buying juices, sports drinks, and soft drinks for your family. Make it a habit to drink water instead of juice or sugary drinks. Don’t even bring juice into your home! Instead, use the money towards a different reward such as a family outing or activity.

Limit Snacking. This is a hard one! But establishing a routine that eliminates snacking throughout the day can limit the growth of bacteria. Remember, the more exposure to sugar, the greater the risk of cavities. 

Together, a healthy diet paired with regular brushing will help create healthy habits for your child.

How Many Teeth Should Toddlers Have at 18 Months?

February 21st, 2021

As a parent, you may wonder whether your toddler’s baby teeth are on schedule. Even though baby teeth usually come in around the same time and the same order for all toddlers, no two toddlers are exactly alike. This means there is some flexibility so don’t worry if your friend’s child develops certain teeth before yours.

Believe it or not, your toddler’s teeth were actually formed long before they made their debut into this world. They are hidden underneath the gums and ready to make their appearance when the time comes. At first, you’ll notice your child's incisions appear. These are important because they make it possible for them to bite into foods.

You can expect their lower central incisors or bottom front teeth to pop up when they’re anywhere between six and 12 months old. At the eight to 12 month phase, the upper incisors will come in. Next, the upper lateral incisors on each side of the front teeth will arrive. You’ll notice their lower lateral incisors anywhere between 10 to 16 months.

Once all your toddler’s incisors are in, it will be time for their molars, which are vital as they can help them chew and grind food. Their upper molars will come at 13 to 19 months while their lower molars will initially make an appearance when they’re between 14 and 18 months. It’s highly likely that your toddler will have 12 teeth by 18 months. Wilmington, NC dentist Gabriel Rich states that contacting a dentist is important when asking oral health questions about your child.

To ensure your toddler’s teeth are coming in as they should, schedule frequent appointments with the pediatric dentist. Through routine exams and cleanings, you’ll get a good idea of whether they’re on track and learn about any issues early on.

Contact Carolina Pediatric Dentistry Today

If you’d like to schedule an appointment at our office, we encourage you to call us at (919) 570-0180. We look forward to meeting you and your child!

How Many Teeth Should a One Year Old Have?

February 6th, 2021

If your child is one or approaching their first birthday, you may wonder how many baby teeth they should have. This is a very common question we hear from parents. While every child is different and some develop faster or slower than others, most have between two and four teeth by the time they’re one year old.

Eventually, at around age two and a half, most children will have all of their 20 baby teeth. At this point, your child will likely be able to chew on food. Prior to it, however, they’ll have to rely on their gums to eat soft, mushy foods. When your child turns 6 or 7, their first baby tooth will likely fall out so that their adult or permanent teeth can grow in. You can expect their last permanent teeth to make their debut around age 12. Midlothian, VA dentist Dr. Brent Rusnak encourages all parents to contact a medical professional if they have questions.

To make sure your child’s oral health is on track, it’s a good idea to bring them to the pediatric dentist for routine exams and cleanings. You should begin to do this when they turn one or get their first tooth, whichever event comes first. Once you do, our dental team will inform you of what’s normal for their age and address any issues that may arise to reduce the risk of long-term complications. In addition, they may help your child develop healthy oral habits so they can achieve and maintain a beautiful smile.

We’ll ask that you brush your child’s teeth regularly until they’re able to do so on their own. Our dentists will also suggest that you promote foods and drinks that are low in sugar and avoid serving juice in bottles to prevent cavities.

Contact Carolina Pediatric Dentistry Today

If you’d like to schedule an appointment at our office, we encourage you to call us at (919) 570-0180. We look forward to meeting you and your child!

Oral Health Concerns for Infants

April 15th, 2020

Because babies’ teeth don’t appear until around six to eight months of age, it’s a natural misconception that they don’t need dental care. But the steps you take as the parent of an infant can help your baby maintain good oral health and develop healthy dental habits in the future.

It’s easy to take care of a baby’s teeth and gums, especially when oral hygiene for your infant becomes part of the normal daily routine. Learn more about how you can promote good dental health for your baby with these tips and considerations.

Taking Care of Baby’s Oral Hygiene

  • Dental Hygiene for Birth to Six Months. Cleaning your infant’s gums is important! Hold your baby in your arms, and with a clean, moistened washcloth wrapped around your index finger, gently massage his or her gums. This helps your baby get used to oral hygiene early!
  • Dental Hygiene for Six to 12 Months. After teeth begin to appear, it’s time to switch to a soft, children’s toothbrush for teeth cleaning. Research has shown that fluoride toothpaste is safe and recommended for use once your baby’s first tooth arrives. The correct amount is just a "smear" or about the size of a grain of rice.  Gently brush your baby’s teeth after each feeding, in the morning, and before bedtime, just as you did before teeth appeared.
  • Good Bedtime Habits. One of the most important things you can do to protect your infant from tooth decay is to avoid the habit of putting baby to bed with a bottle containing anything other than water. Use other soothing bedtime activities, such as rocking and lullabies, to help your baby drift off to sleep.  The American Academy of Pediatrics had great information about building bedtime routine, including 1. Brush, 2. Book, and 3. Bed.  This refers to brushing teeth, reading a book to and with your child, and then putting your child to sleep.  Healthy routines make healthy children!

Partner With Us, Your Child's Dentist!

Your baby should receive his or her first dental health checkup by the age of one year, and no later than 6 months after he or she gets the first tooth! Even though your infant may only have a few teeth, Drs. LaRee Johnson, Clark Morris, Gentry Byrd, and Anne Baker can assess the risk your baby might face for oral diseases that affect hard or soft tissues. Drs. LaRee Johnson, Clark Morris, Gentry Byrd, and Anne Baker can also provide you with instructions for infant oral hygiene, and explain what steps to add as your baby grows and develops.

Carolina Pediatric Dentistry is your partner for good oral health, and we’re here to make caring for your baby’s dental hygiene and health easier and more enjoyable for you.

What is baby bottle tooth decay (now know as Early Childhood Caries)?

April 8th, 2020

Great question! What was once known as baby bottle tooth decay and now called "early childhood caries" refers to the development of cavities in baby teeth, often caused by the frequent and long-term exposure of a child's teeth to liquids containing sugars. These liquids include milk, formula, fruit juice, sodas and other sweetened drinks. The bacteria in the mouth thrive on this sugar and produce acids that attack the infant's teeth and gums. After numerous attacks, cavities can begin to form.

The first rule is to make sure your child does not fall asleep with a bottle containing milk, formula, juice or other sweetened liquids. Giving an infant a sugary drink before bedtime is harmful because the flow of saliva decreases during sleep, allowing the sugary liquids to linger on the child's teeth for an extended period of time. If left untreated, pain and infection can result.

So, how can you prevent baby teeth from getting cavities?  In addition to eliminating sweet drinks, brush your child's teeth using a soft toothbrush, and a small amount of fluoride toothpaste.

The American Academy of Pediatrics, American Dental Association, and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommend that children have their first dental visit by 12 month of age.  We would love to meet your family and give your child the care they deserve! Please give us a call if your child hasn't visited our Raleigh and Wakefield office in the last six months or to set up a new patient appointment at one of our offices!

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