This condition results when a baby sleeps with a bottle of milk, juice, or sweetened liquid, or sleeps all night at the breast. The liquid collects in the mouth and the sugar in the liquid bathes the teeth, leading to tooth decay. A baby should not be put to sleep with a bottle of anything but water. Do not let the baby sleep all night at the breast.
One should begin teaching your infant to drink from a cup at 6 months of age. Teeth and gums should be cleaned daily. A child may cry when you try to take the bottle away. A child may be comforted with music, a favorite toy, reading to the child, giving the child a back rub or holding/rocking the child.
Adequate nutrients are needed to help the mouth and teeth develop properly, especially protein, calcium, zinc, vitamins A, C and D, and fluoride. Where local water supplies are not fluoridated, direct applications of fluoride to the teeth may be necessary. Daily foods and snacks should be provided from each food group.
Plaque is a soft, sticky, colorless film that occurs on the teeth. Plaque is made of harmful bacteria and is the major cause of tooth decay and gum disease. Plaque can be removed by brushing daily.
Cavities are a bacterial infection. Cavities occur when there is plaque, sugars, and starches on teeth that are cavity prone. The bacteria in plaque produce acids when foods containing sugars or starches are eaten. These acids can destroy tooth enamel. Plaque promotes the acid that breaks down the enamel on teeth forming a cavity. Bacteria then invade the dentin (the body of the tooth) and assists in destroying the entire tooth.
A most frequent sign of gingivitis is inflamed (red and swollen) gums that bleed easily, especially when brushing the teeth. The primary cause of this periodontal disease is plaque. Plaque builds up along the gum line, irritating the gums and making them tender and likely to bleed. Daily brushing can help in avoiding gum disease.
Fluoride occurs naturally in water supplies, although there is variation in the amount, depending on the water source and area. Fluoride can be obtained by using toothpaste containing fluoride, or your dentist may suggest fluoride applications depending on the condition of the teeth. Fluoride assists in building strong teeth and makes teeth more resistant to cavities. However, fluoride can be harmful if excessive amounts are consumed; teeth can appear spotted with white opaque areas.