Causes of dental disease

Dr. Westervelt in consultation with parent and patientDental decay is the most common chronic childhood disease in America. Early childhood caries is an infectious disease defined by the presence of one or more decayed surfaces in any primary tooth in a child 6 years of age or younger. Many cases of early childhood caries is preventable with education and regular dental checkups.

Tooth decay can begin with cavity causing bacteria that is passed from the mother to the infant through saliva. It is just as important for expectant mothers and mothers to visit the dentist and improve their own oral health. Baby bottle tooth decay is a type of early childhood caries that most often occurs in the upper front teeth, but can spread to other teeth depending on severity. The most common cause is a frequent, prolonged exposure of the baby’s teeth to drinks that contain sugars such as breast milk, formula, and juice. Habits to avoid include putting your baby to bed with a bottle, infants should finish their bedtime and naptime bottles before going to bed. If your child uses a pacifier, provide a clean one. Do not replace this with a bottle or a pacifier dipped in sugar or honey. Encourage healthy eating habits. Your child should be drinking from a cup by his/her first birthday. Only place milk, formula, or breast milk in bottles, avoid liquids with sugar such as juice or soft drinks. Overall, dental decay is preventable with regular dental visits, proper home care, and the use of fluoride.