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It is common for parents to underestimate the importance of taking their young children to the dentist's office, but the truth is that children should see a dentist around the time their first teeth come in, usually between 6 and 12 months of age. Not only will this early visit help you and your child establish a rapport with the dentist, but early examination professional preventive care can also ensure that your child enjoys a strong and healthy smile in the future.
Many parents of babies and toddlers are shocked to find that their child has cavities at such an early age. However, early childhood carries, often referred to as baby bottle or nursing cavities, are a common problem. The main cause of this condition is putting a baby to bed with a bottle filled with milk or a sweetened beverage such as juice. These liquids stay on the teeth, feeding bacteria naturally present in the mouth to produce cavity-causing plaque, which leads to decay. Common signs that a baby is struggling with tooth pain or decay include crying during meals, trouble falling asleep, and crying when the child wakes up. Teeth damaged by bottle-feeding should be examined by a dentist as soon as possible. In some cases, baby cavities can be removed with a professional cleaning. However, more severe cavities may require a filling, a crown, or even tooth extraction.
Preventive care is the best way to avoid your child suffering with cavities at an early age. It's best not to put your child to bed with a bottle, but this can also be a difficult habit to break. If your child insists on bringing a bottle to bed, try filling it with water or another non-sweetened beverage: otherwise, use a pacifier. It is also important to clean your child's gums with a moist cloth, or use a baby-sized toothbrush with very little toothpaste for those first tiny teeth, before putting him or her to bed. For more advice on how best to care for your baby's first teeth, contact a pediatric dentist near you.
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