Infant's teeth are also subject to decay, one such example is of nursing bottle caries, which results in rampant decay of the primary (milk) teeth.
What can I look out for as a parent?
- Many teeth are involved
- Lesion (caries) development is rapid.
- Caries lesion occurs on the surface (front surface of upper teeth and inner side of the teeth at the back)
When I Open my child's mouth, I see -
- The upper four front teeth are most prone to decay. The other teeth (canines and molars) may or may not be involved
- First a chalky white line develops towards the gum line and it usually goes undetected. These white lesions progress to become brownish or black in colour.
- Mostly, the upper front teeth show extensive involvement, and on further advancement of the disease, the teeth may be destroyed completely leaving behind only the roots.
Why my baby?
- Prolonged use of bottle (more than one hour at a stretch)
- Leaving the baby unattended with a milk bottle in the mouth , throughout night time.
- Not cleaning the oral cavity (teeth and gums) after bottle feeding.
- Sugar levels in the milk also have to be monitored and have to be kept to the bare minimum, so that teeth and health is maintained more natural.
What can I do to protect my baby's teeth?
- Clean the gum pads and teeth with cotton dipped in clean water in infants after feeding.
- Baby brush and pea sized paste, for teeth cleansing can be used at the age of 15 months
- Avoid leaving the baby with a bottle in the mouth, overnight. (use a pacifier instead)
- Breast feeding upto the age of 12- 13 months, followed by feeding milk products with a small spoon (with child in sitting position).
How do we treat this?
- Visit the dentist as soon as you notice any signs of decay ( blackish or brownish discolouration)
- The first signs of decay should never be ignored.
- Note- Caries (Decay) is an irreversible process, and any amount of precautions taken after development of decay will not solve the problem, even vigorous use of tooth paste or cleansing will not.
- Initial stage of decay - Restoration (filling) can be done.
- Severe and involves the pulp - Root canal treatment (pulpectomy in kids) is done.
- If the tooth is grossly decayed and broken due to decay, it might have to be removed.
Cautionary note - The tooth that are decayed, are prone to infection , and pus formation might be seen in the gums, and there might be a resultant swelling intraorally and even on the face at times. This kind, might result in mobility of the tooth.
Visiting the dentist every 6 months is highly recommended, even in children.