Many parents do not realize that even healthy food and drinks like milk, breast milk, formula and fruit juice have naturally occurring sugars that contribute to the tooth decay process. When children go to bed with a bottle containing milk or carry around a sippy cup of juice to drink all day, the liquid sits in the child’s mouth for an extended period. This creates a perfect environment for dangerous oral bacteria. Of course, don’t stop feeding your children healthy foods, but it is possible to control how often and when a child is exposed to natural sugars. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) just released new guidelines on juice drinking and toddlers. The AAP now says, “no juice before age one” for best dental and overall health. In accord with this, the dentists of the Placerville Dental Group have the following advice to support healthy teeth at a young age.
How to Avoid Early Childhood Caries
The following advice applies specifically to stopping Early Childhood Caries (ECC):
- Do not give toddlers juice from bottles or sippy cups that make it easy to drink throughout the day, nor should they be given juice at bedtime.
- Children should be encouraged to eat whole fruits to benefit from the fiber found in fresh produce.
- Human milk and/or infant formula is enough to satisfy fluid requirements for infants less than six months old, and low-fat/nonfat milk and water are sufficient for older babies and toddlers.
The California Dental Association also recommends limiting snacking. If a bottle is needed, use only water at nap/bed time to prevent ECC. Research shows that children are not born with the bacteria that cause decay, but are infected with it, usually at an early age from mothers or their primary caregiver. Bacteria causes cavities and parents with cavities are likely to have children with cavities. Bacteria is passed through saliva and can occur before the first tooth appears.
To minimize the transfer of harmful bacteria, the CDA has the following recommendations:
• Avoid sharing spoons and forks with your child
• Use water to clean a pacifier instead of cleaning it in your mouth.
• Hold your baby when you feed him/her.
• Remove the bottle when baby falls asleep.
• Wipe off baby’s teeth/gums with a damp washcloth at least twice per day and when baby is done eating.
Parents should also check their child’s mouth for decay. Look for white spots on your child’s first teeth, an early indication of tooth decay. If you see it, schedule an appointment with the Placerville Dental Group right away.
When your baby‘s first tooth erupts, begin cleaning baby’s teeth with a soft washcloth or small, soft toothbrush. For toddlers, use a pea sized dab of toothpaste with fluoride on a soft toothbrush. Fluoride helps strengthen developing teeth, making them more resistant to decay. Starting good dental habits early establishes healthy habits for life. As soon as your child’s first tooth erupts, it’s also the perfect time to introduce your little one to our caring Placerville family dentists and staff. Start your summer off right and schedule an appointment for your family’s dental exam and cleanings today!