Though we don’t often think about it, children as young as 9 or 10 months of age can be infected with cavity producing bacteria, which causes cavities and tooth decay. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that almost 20% of children 2-5 have untreated cavities, and the percentage rises in children over 6. 1
Tooth decay, if left undetected or untreated in toddlers and children can result in altered eating habits, delayed speech development, and create an unhealthy environment for permanent tooth development. Healthy baby teeth lead to healthier permanent teeth later in life.
Mothers who practice preventive dental and oral care during prenatal and postnatal periods can better protect her child from cavities. Parents and care providers should not prop a bottle for their baby in a crib or car seat, avoiding nighttime bottle or breast feeding, and clean their child’s teeth with a cloth or soft baby toothbrush as soon as they erupt. It is also recommended that parents check regularly for chalky white or brown spots which could indicate the beginning of decay.2
Cosmetic and pediatric dentists advise taking your child to their first dental appointment six months after the first tooth appears, or around his first birthday to begin discussing fluoride prescriptions and other preventive care issues.
1 ‘ Untreated Dental Caries in Children,’ CDC.gov, February 9, 2011,http://www.cdc.gov/Features/dsUntreatedCavitiesKids/, accessed on February 6, 2012
2 ‘Cavities in Kids: The Truth,’ Medicine Net.com, July 7, 2004, http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=12465, accessed on February 6, 2012
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