In the fight against cavities, what’s an excessive number to you? 5 million? Maybe 15 million? How about nearly 40 million American children under the age of 5 with cavities? Yup. You’ve read correctly. Forty million children will have cavities, some potentially very serious, by the time they enter kindergarten. A recent study at the University of Illinois revealed that these early cavities may be a direct result of unhygienic and harmful oral health practices during infancy. By studying how the spread of oral bacteria occurs in babies, aged 12 to 24 months, the research team hoped to understand how poor dental health early in life can lead to full-blown cavity “infection” in adulthood. Dr. Kelly Swanson, lead researcher and university professor, explained the results by stating that “the soft tissues of a baby’s mouth act as tiny reservoirs for potential bacteria prior to tooth eruption.” Indeed by the age of 6 months the oral microbiology in a baby’s mouth is pretty much a duplicate of their mother’s microflora!
In wake of this illuminating and tragic research, babies across the country are asking parents to unite with them in fighting the spread of oral bacteria. Tiny tots advise parents to learn key basics on infant oral hygiene. Aligning their efforts with pediatric and general dentists everywhere, it is their desire to see a reduction in tooth decay among kindergartners by 2016.
Obviously, babies can’t speak for themselves, but at Dr. Mark W Langberg’s, we stand behind and advocate at every opportunity, excellent oral and dental care for infants! We’ve written about the increase of tooth decay among preschoolers age 2 to 5 in a previous post, but it does bear repeating. While the statistics are alarming, parents can play an active part in preventing tooth decay in their households. At our Southfield, MI practice, we see preschoolers on a daily basis, so we’ve put together a quick list of some tips and recommendations that are easy for parents to follow.
- Infants should see a dentist for first time by the time they’re 1 year old. With a brief examination and oral health assessment and discussion with the parents, we can begin a routine your child will be accustomed to and set the stage for good oral health for a lifetime. Subsequently Infants should also see a dentist every six months.
- Find a family dentist you trust. With almost four decades in the dental profession, my Southfield team and I can keep you informed of changes in pediatric and general dentistry that will keep your whole family disease free. Reviewing their medical and dental histories for your child can help predict predispositions to oral disease, dental caries and gum issues in the early stages. It’s our job to do everything in our power to keep your family healthy right from the start to prevent potential problems in adulthood.
- Use only chilled teething rings and oral analgesics. According to the American Association of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), parents should avoid over-the-counter anesthetics because of toxicity levels. Teething rings, and even a popsicle, can sooth irritation and pain for your little one.
- Clean your baby’s teeth as soon as the first little tooth appears. Start with a damp terrycloth and gently wipe the contours of your baby’s mouth. Repeating this after every meal, and at least twice a day, allows your baby to become used to a teeth cleaning regimen at home. You can also “feel” what you are doing vs. trying to see what you are doing when your child’s mouth closes tight around a brush. As more teeth begin to appear, you can gradually introduce a soft-bristled brush designed specifically for infants.
- Snack and Meal Timing: Probably the most significant action a parent can take in the fight against tooth decay is creating a mealtime schedule that can reduce dental and oral health issues. For instance, nighttime bottle feeding before bed should be avoided, and parents should also be mindful of sugary snacks between meals as well. The AAPD also recommends avoiding breastfeeding more than 7 times a day after the age of 12 months.
At our practice, Dr. Mark W Langberg, DDS, MAGD, PC , it is our goal to have every patient, regardless of age or size, to be cavity-free for life. We’ll keep you informed on the latest recommendations for your whole family and suggest treatments that work. Call us at 248-356-8790 for more information on decay prevention for your children, because it’s never too late to give your dental and oral health a great beginning! Discover the difference a great dentist can make!
Until Next Time,
Mark W Langberg, DDS, MAGD
Your Southfield Family Dentist
Tel: (248) 356-8790