What Causes Tooth Decay?
Several specific types of bacteria that live on the teeth cause decay. When sugar is consumed, the bacteria use the sugar and then manufacture acids that dissolve the teeth and cause an infection in the tooth. This infection is called decay.
What Is Baby Bottle Tooth Decay?
Babies who go to bed with a bottle of milk, formula, or juice are more likely to get tooth decay. Because the sugar in formula, milk, or juice stays in contact with the teeth for a long time during the night, the teeth can decay quickly.
Some Tips To Avoid Baby Bottle Tooth Decay
- Do not put your child to bed with a bottle, unless it is of plain water.
- Stop nursing when your child is asleep or has stopped sucking on the bottle.
- Do not let your child walk around using a bottle of milk or juice as a pacifier.
- Start to teach your child to drink from a cup at about six months of age. Plan to stop using a bottle by 12 to 14 months at the latest.
- Don’t dip your child’s pacifier in honey or sugar.
- Brush or wipe your child’s teeth before bedtime and naps.
What Is Fluoride?
Fluoride helps make teeth strong and prevents tooth decay. If the water where you live does not have enough fluoride, your doctor may prescribe fluoride supplements (fluoride drops or pills). These drops or pills are taken every day, starting when your child is about six months old. Only give as much as the directions say to use because too much fluoride can cause spots on your child’s teeth. Also, be sure to call your local water authority and ask if your water is fluoridated. If it is, tell your dentist or pediatrician so that your child is not being over fluoridated. Children should take these drops or pills until they are 12 to 16 years old (or until you move to an area with fluoride in the water).
What is Fluoride Varnish?
Fluoride varnish is a topical agent containing a high concentration of fluoride (5 percent sodium fluoride (NaF) or 22,600 ppm of fluoride) in a resin or synthetic base. It is painted directly onto teeth and is intended to remain in close contact with enamel for several hours. Because it adheres to the tooth surface, it stays in place so that our patients can eat and drink following their appointment and it minimizes the risk of inadvertent fluoride consumption. The ADA considers fluoride varnish to be safe and efficacious as part of a caries prevention program that includes caries diagnosis, risk assessment, and regular dental care. We recommend this fluoride treatment in our very young patients as well as our patients at high risk for dental decay.