Can a baby have tooth decay?

Today, despite community-based preventive measures to keep oral diseases in childhood under control, the number of children with oral diseases is still low. dental caries is the most prevalent disease in humans..

We now know that this is an infectious disease that is caused by a number of factors and can affect both the primary or 'baby' teeth as well as the permanent teeth.

The early onset caries (this term is used to define the presence of one or more deciduous teeth affected by caries before the age of 6 years) is a major oral health problem in contemporary society. Some of the factors associated with its occurrence include:

- Frequent bottle-feeding with sugary liquids

- Prolonged breastfeeding beyond the recommended weaning age

- Bottle or breastfeeding during sleep on a regular basis

- Dipping the dummy in honey or sugary liquids

These habits can lead to tooth decay in younger children as long as they are not cared for in the first place. proper oral hygiene immediately after consumption.

Caries in children progresses rapidly, starting with a white spot (which is demineralisation of the enamel), progressing to a cavity in the tooth.

Rampant' caries increasingly prevalent in babies
Rampant' caries increasingly prevalent in babies

Given that caries is a bacterial disease, it is therefore transmissible. There are some behaviours that favour the transmission of these cariogenic bacteria from the mother/father to the baby. For example:

- Blow food off the baby's spoon to cool it down.

- Cleaning the baby's dummy or eating utensils with the mouth.

It is therefore very important that the parents' oral health is good. There are several studies that confirm that reducing the amount of bacteria in the mouth of the parents will favour the correct oral health of their children.

 Very advanced early onset caries
Very advanced early onset caries

Therefore, in order to preventing tooth decay in young children of the Region of Murcia we advise:

- Avoid frequent intake of sugary drinks or bottle feeding on demand, especially at night, from the time the first milk tooth erupts.

- Promote and maintain good oral health in all members of the family to prevent the transmission of bacteria.

- Adopt oral hygiene measures from the first months of life.

- Go for a check-up by your Paediatric Dentist every semester to advise on each child's caries risk and appropriate preventive measures, including fluoride application and pit and fissure sealants.

Dr. Clara Serna Muñoz

Degree in Dentistry

Master's Degree in Paediatric Dentistry

San Rafael Hospital in Madrid