It is very important to try to prevent decay of your child’s primary teeth. As soon as teeth appear in the mouth, decay can occur. One of the risk factors for this “baby bottle tooth decay” is frequent and prolonged exposure of a baby’s teeth to liquids containing sugar. These liquids could include milk, breast milk, formula, and fruit juice. Tooth decay can also occur when parents or caregivers put a baby to bed with a bottle – or use milk, formula, or juice as a pacifier for a fussy baby. If you use a pacifier, use a clean one. Never dip a pacifier in sugar or honey before giving it to a baby. Prolonged use of pacifiers can harm the teeth just like prolonged thumb sucking, but it is often easier to wean a child from a pacifier than a thumb. Encourage children to drink from a cup by their first birthday, and discourage frequent use of a training or Sippy cup. Never allow a baby to take a bottle to bed at night or naptime.
Regular dental check-ups and preventative dental care such as cleanings, fluoride treatments and sealants, provide your child with “smile” insurance. Plan your child’s first dental visit within six months after the first tooth erupts, but no later than his or hers first birthday.
Consider it a “well baby check-up” for your child’s teeth. During your child’s first visit, your dentist will check:
• for cavities
• to see how well the teeth are being cleaned and offer suggestions if necessary
• to make sure the proper number of teeth have erupted
• to see that your child is receiving the proper amount of fluoride
• to see if the parents have any questions or concerns
Routine dental exams will help assess your child’s dental health through the years. By age seven, it is recommended that your child receive an orthodontic evaluation.
Your dentist is there to provide information to help you take care of your child’s oral health.
Researchers at the American Dental Association are finding possible links between gum infections and cardiovascular disease. Some research suggests that periodontal disease may be a more serious risk factor for heart disease than high blood pressure, smoking, high cholesterol, gender, and age. People who have gum disease seem to be at a higher risk for heart attacks. One reason may be that bacteria present in infected gums can become loose and move throughout the body. This same bacteria could travel to the arteries and irritate them, causing arterial plaque to form, which contributes to the hardening of the arteries. Communication with your dentist and doctor is critical in the proper diagnosis and treatment of periodontal disease. Regular dental examinations are crucial for patients with a history of heart disease to check for any signs of oral pain, infection, or gum inflammation.