How to Prevent Early Childhood Dental Caries in Your Little One

Are there brownish stains on your tot’s teeth and are you worried that your bub will lose his or her teeth long before the permanent teeth erupt from their gums? Drinking milk may be to blame.

How could that be when milk is supposed to be good for healthy teeth and bones?

To clarify, your breastmilk or the milk formula that you provide your little one is not to blame. On their own, they are beneficial because they truly offer nothing but nutrients to support your child’s development. The colostrum in your milk is the best immunity booster. Meanwhile, milk formula, even flavoured milk formula that little ones enjoy, is loaded with vitamins, minerals, and even probiotics to ensure optimum health.

So, how does milk figure in the problem?

It is most likely that you do not provide milk to your child the right way.

How You Are Sabotaging Your Child’s Dental Health with Milk

Too much of a good thing is rarely a problem with milk unless your child has a sensitivity to lactose.  The problem here is you are probably giving your child milk in a way that it can lead to adverse effects to your child’s dental health.

For example, if you let your little fall asleep with a milk bottle in his or her mouth, you automatically make your child’s teeth prone to what paediatric dentists call “feeding bottle cavities.”

Here’s what you need to know about this dental health issue among tots:

Milk formulas with probiotics and other health boosters or regular formula possess natural sugars that can cause tooth decay. Actually, even breast milk contains a certain amount of sugar (lactose) and can cause tooth decay from night nursing. When a person’s saliva production slows down at night, its natural “rinsing” ability allows milk sugars to interact with mouth bacteria. This interaction can often lead to dental caries.

How to Prevent Early Childhood Dental Caries Due to Milk

There are a few practical ways to prevent this oral health issue for your little one. Four are discussed below:

1. Avoid letting your little one sleep while drinking milk

As easy as it may be to calm fussiness with milk, consider turning to other methods of relaxing your child without the milk bottle. Touch therapy is one way. Gently massage your little one as you hold him or her close to you.

Another tactic worth trying to induce sleep for fussy bubs is by playing lullabies.

Child development experts also recommend turning off all the lights to encourage the body’s production of melatonin, a chemical substance that causes feelings of drowsiness.

Or, use red or orange nightlights for slight illumination. These hues do not inhibit the body’s secretion of melatonin, unlike blue, green and white lights.

2. Clean your child’s mouth regularly (twice a day)

Simple oral hygiene can make a whole world of difference in protecting your toddler’s milk teeth. Using a soft cloth to wipe off milk buildup on your child’s tongue and teeth after feeding helps if your tot is too young for silicone brushes.

3. Give your child water as a “chaser” for milk

After giving your little one milk, follow it up with a bottle of water to help wash away milk sugars. This tactic is especially helpful during naptime when the tot naturally dozes off after a bottle of formula. Water will “rinse off” the remaining formula in your child’s mouth, while also keeping him or her refreshed.

4. Provide the little one water when thirsty

Most of the time, parents quickly grab a milk bottle when the little one is thirsty – even keeping the milk bottle chilled in the fridge. But, when your tot is simply hot and thirsty, water will do. Aside from keeping your child hydrated, water aids in preventing constipation in children.

The health of your child’s teeth can determine his or her oral health as an adult. So, implement the best practices cited here for your little one. It is never too early to set a good foundation for oral health to keep cavities away.