Infants cannot live without milk, be it breast milk or formula. However, what parents do not know that this food of nourishment is also the cause of tooth decay in infants. And, most parents have no idea how to take care infants' teeth further propounding the problem.
Usually when adults get cavities, they are hidden from sight and only a visit to a dentist may end up revealing the cavities. On the other hand, when infants suffer from tooth decay, it always occurs on the visible part of the front teeth. However, parents do not worry because as tooth decay in infants is setting in, the damage to the teeth is not visible.
Thankfully, tooth decay in infants can be prevented. However, we first have to understand how tooth decay starts in infants. The milk that the baby consumes is the perfect environment for bacteria to thrive in. The bacteria convert the sugars in the milk into acid and it is this acid that etches the enamel. Prolonged contact with the acid erodes the enamel exposing the dentin and making the tooth more susceptible to tooth decay, which is bound to occur.
All infants drool and it is this saliva that acts on the acids and prevents them damaging the teeth while the infants are awake. However, the problem occurs when the infant goes to sleep and the saliva dries out. Any liquid present in the infant's mouth will pool near the teeth as when an infant is asleep, swallowing decreases. So, trying to make the baby sleep while there is still milk in his or her mouth will lead to tooth decay in the long run.
You can prevent tooth decay in infants by ensuring that the babies' teeth are not exposed to acid for a long duration. One way would be to ensure that the infant drinks milk at least 15 minutes before going to sleep. If your baby wants to go to sleep sucking, then it is better to use orthodontic pacifier or bottle of water than giving him or her milk.
In addition, make sure your baby gets enough fluoride through drinking water. The optimum level of fluoride in water should be 0.7 to 1.2 parts per million. However, make sure you check with your pediatrician whether your baby needs fluoride supplement or not.
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