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Healthy smiles begin with healthy habits



Healthy, beautiful smiles start when your child is an infant. Healthy habits need to begin early in life so they continue throughout a child’s life.

And without attention and care, infants and toddlers can develop serious and painful dental disease.

The most common cause of tooth loss in children is not accidents or injuries — it is baby-bottle tooth decay (BBTD), a pattern of severe and rapid tooth decay in infants and toddlers that results from improper feeding practices. Every time your infant or child consumes sugary or sweet liquids, the acids produced by the plaque attack the baby teeth. After many attacks, cavities may begin to form.

The teeth most susceptible to BBTD are the upper front teeth, although the molars or back teeth also can be affected. BBTD may cause pain, many cavities, crooked permanent teeth, ear and speech problems, and possible emotional issues.

The good news is tooth decay is almost completely preventable. You can help prevent tooth decay by following these tips:

Do not share foods, feeding spoons or pacifiers, or give them to your child.

After each feeding, wipe your baby’s gums with a clean, damp washcloth. This will remove plaque and food that can harm erupting teeth.

Once teeth have erupted, brush gently with a child-sized toothbrush and water.

Place only breast milk, formula or milk in bottles.

Avoid filling the bottle with liquids such as sugar water, juice or soft drinks.

Do not allow your infant or child to fall asleep with a bottle — the sugary liquids can pool around the mouth and promote bacteria.

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