17. October 2011 10:32
They are only baby teeth, why should we repair them? Won't they just be gone in a few years anyway? All dentists have heard comments similar to these over the years. We as a profession probably have done an inadequate job of emphasizing the importance of keeping your child's first teeth healthy.
The baby teeth are very important. Children need strong, healthy teeth to chew their food, speak, and smile. They are also nature's space maintainers for the future adult teeth. If baby teeth are lost prematurely, the teeth move around and can possibly prevent or restrict the adult teeth from erupting properly. This can make the adult teeth crooked or crowded.
From there first appearance at around six months, the baby teeth are at risk for decay. Tooth decay in infants and toddlers is referred as Baby Bottle Tooth Decay or Early Childhood Caries. It usually occurs in the upper front teeth, but the other teeth may be affected. The severity can range from mild to so severe that they are not repairable and need to be removed. This decay process can for the most part be prevented.
Tooth decay is a disease that is driven by bacteria. This bacteria is transferred in your child's mouth by being passed from the caregiver who already has these bacteria in their mouth. This is passed through the saliva by the simple act of putting the baby's feeding spoon or pacifier in the adult's mouth.
Another factor for the decay is the frequent and prolonged exposure of the baby's teeth to sugar containing liquids, such as fruit juice, milk, breast milk and formula. Tooth decay may occur when the baby is placed in bed with a bottle or when a bottle is used as a pacifier for a fussy baby. That liquid pools around the teeth and bathes them in sugar while they sleep. The bacteria in the mouth then use the sugar in these liquids as food. They then produce acids that attack the teeth and break down the enamel. Each time your child drinks these liquids, acids attack the teeth for at least twenty minutes. This constant acid attacks can lead to decay. Pacifiers dipped in sugar or honey (I know hard to believe) also can fuel the bacteria's acid attacks.