Baby’s teeth – the early years
Breast and bottle-feeding should be stopped around one year old. Prolonged and especially night time feeding can cause holes in the first (deciduous) teeth.
Soya infant formulae can cause cavities and should only be used under medical supervision. Drinks containing free sugars, including natural fruit juices, should be avoided between meals and should never be put in a feeding bottle.
In the first year it is best to encourage water or milk only. It is better to reduce exposure to ‘sugary foods’ in the first two years and try to keep sugars to meal times only. Never put your child to bed with a bottle or a beaker.
Teeth should be brushed with a smear of toothpaste as soon as they show in the mouth, helping to familiarize the baby with the brush and paste, and the act of tooth – brushing.
Comforters, dummies and thumb sucking
Children often stop thumb sucking by 3 to 4 years old. If thumb or dummy sucking continues beyond this age it can cause problems with the growth of the teeth, occasionally necessitating complex orthodontic management. If you have any concerns or want help with stopping the habit, please ask for advice.
Restoring your child’s first teeth
Tooth decay leads to the breakdown of the tooth tissue causing a hole (cavity). Once these holes have been cleaned they can be treated using different filling materials. For small cavities a white filling is usually used. Where there has been extensive decay, the nerve running through the tooth may become inflamed or die, requiring ‘pulp’ treatment.
Where treatment to the nerve has been carried out, or when there has been extensive loss of structure, a ‘stainless steel’ crown is sometimes placed. This allows the tooth to be retained for a few more years, making the tooth stronger and reducing the risk of decay from occurring on other surfaces.