I have a 15 month old boy. He’s got himself a mouth full of teeth and it makes his dentist father proud! The dentist in me wants him to never eat a sweet and limit his eating to only meal times. The dad in me wants him to be happy and sometimes wants to give him a bottle to get him to nap! So what’s a guy to do?
There’s some pretty interesting research out there that’s answering the questions about the best way to start junior’s oral health out on the right foot. Here’s some of the high points:
- Tooth decay is a transmissible disease caused by bacteria in the mouth.
- Just like a cold, a child can get cavity bugs from someone else.
- Transmission is through “salivary contact.” Yup, that’s pretty gross but lets face it, sometimes you share a spoon with your little cherub or you kiss on them. It happens!
- There is a strong (but not perfect) relationship to the bacteria that colonize a child’s mouth and the bacteria in the mother’s mouth. Usually a child gets their cavity bugs from Mom.
- Frequent exposure to sugary foods is the main dietary cause to tooth decay in children
- Highly processed sugars like sucrose and high fructose corn syrup are the most easily metabolized sugars by cavity bugs(found in candy, soda, and most problematic…juice!).
- Some research claims that cow’s milk promotes tooth decay the least of sugars tested and there is some evidence that cow’s milk has some protective capacity.
What does it all mean. Here’s what I take away from it:
- Mom and Dad need to take care of their teeth. If Mom or Dad have cavities, they should take care of them quickly. If you don’t know if you’ve got cavities, you need to find out! How can you find out? We’ve got appointments available immediately! Call us at: (989) 799-9133.
- Stay away from sugary drinks and snacks. Even fruit juice or processed fruit baby foods are high in sugars that can cause cavities. Some of these foods have added sugar and many of them have concentrated the natural sugars through processing. If you’ve ever had a drink of apple juice from the bottle you’ll know what I’m talking about.
- One 8 oz. serving of apple juice has 26-30 grams of carbohydrates (“sugars”) vs. one 8 oz serving of Coca Cola has 27 grams of carbohydrates (“sugars”)
- Water down juice given to a child.
- Give your baby/children milk to drink. It has the least “bad sugars” and may even be protective of teeth
- Don’t get in the habit of having your children snack a lot between meals. When they do, limit their snacks to non-sugary things
- Don’t give your baby a bottle to go to bed!
Love those babies, but love their teeth, too! If you have any questions or comments feel free to comment at the bottom of this entry or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For some more reading on the subject I highly recommend this article from the American Academy of Family Physicians.