Dental decay in babies, children & adults
Dental decay can occur in babies, children and adults. It happens when acid, which is made in the mouth from the sugar that we eat, attacks the top enamel surface of the teeth. The enamel can recover from one acid attack but if you are taking sugar often, e.g. by sipping sugary drinks, then the acid attacks will form a hole or cavity in the tooth. So, to prevent dental decay you must cut down on how much but also how often you have sugary food and drinks.
The longer you breastfeed the better it is for you and your baby. Breast milk contains all the goodness and nutrients your baby needs, as well as antibodies, which help fight infection.
Nursing bottle tooth decay
Nursing bottle tooth decay can develop if a liquid that contains sugar is kept in contact with a baby’s front teeth. This can happen if a feeding bottle is left with a baby overnight or a sugary drink is given in a bottle between meals. Only EVER give water, expressed breast milk or formula milk in a feeding bottle.
Introduce a drinking cup by 6 months. All babies in Forth Valley receive a free drinking cup so try to have your baby off a feeding bottle by their first birthday
If your child currently uses a dummy, then choose an orthodontic dummy but NEVER dip it in anything sweet.
Sugar, Salt & Babies
Do not add sugar or salt to foods for your baby. Sugar can harm your baby’s teeth and salt can overload a baby’s kidneys.
Try to avoid always giving sweets as treats, presents or ways to calm down an upset child. Think of alternatives and try to plan ahead and have tooth-friendly options available.
Adults as well as children can reduce the ‘attacks’ on our teeth by keeping sugary drinks to mealtimes only. Water, milk or tea and coffee without sugar are the safest drinks to have between meals.
Scientific research shows that to help prevent dental decay you should limit when you have food or drink with sugar in to no more than 4 times a day. To help do this keep sugary foods and drink to mealtimes only. In between meals choose fruit, chopped up vegetables, or starchy foods like breadsticks, crackers or pitta bread.
Check for sugar content on labels of food. Remember sugar is often “hidden” in foods. If you see one of the words shown below – near the top of the ingredients – this means that it is high in sugar.
honey, sucrose, glucose, maltose, dextrose, fructose, hydrolised starch, corn or maize syrup, molasses,raw/brown sugar, treacle and concentrated fruit juice
Smoking affects the health of your mouth as well as your general health. Gum disease, stained teeth, bad breath and mouth cancer can all be caused by smoking. You can increase your chance of quitting by up to 4 times if you join a smoking cessation group or get face to face support and the benefits to your health will be felt straightaway.
Gum disease is the most common cause of tooth loss and it is made worse by smoking. The signs of early gum disease are blood on the toothbrush or when you spit out your toothpaste when cleaning your teeth. Inflamed gums can be swollen and bright red in colour. They can also bleed when you are eating, leave a bad taste in your mouth and give you bad breath.
If you think you might have gum disease then visit your dentist. Early gum disease or gingivitis can be treated so it doesn’t develop into severe periodontal disease. Periodontal disease can cause bone loss, make your teeth become wobbly and then finally fall out.
Build up your defence by brushing your teeth thoroughly twice day with a fluoride toothpaste; use a dry toothbrush and spit out the paste but don’t rinse your mouth.
An adult should assist children up to around age 7 to brush and a toothpaste with a 1000 parts per million fluoride (ppmF) should be used. Babies should have a smear of toothpaste (1000 ppmF) on the brush, toddlers and children should use a pea sized amount. Children 7 years plus and adults should use a pea sized amount of toothpaste 1450 ppmF. Always check the back of the box or toothpaste tube to see how much fluoride it contains.
Register with a dentist for FREE !
Register all the family with a dentist and go for regular check ups. Regular dental care is one of the most important things you can do to look after your teeth and mouth. Dental registration is now continuous – More information on dental registration from the Dental Services page.
Remember, NHS dental treatment is free for schoolchildren and certain other low income groups