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As parents, we wait to see the first signs of teeth break into the gum lines of our babies. What in the world can be more precious than watching our babies smile with their cute little teeth? The teeth also bring with them more functions than just the cuteness. It signals that your baby is ready for solid foods now. It also means that your baby will start making sounds that will soon lead to speech.
We often give more importance to the teeth of adults. After all, adult teeth are not replaceable. But did you know that the health of temporary teeth is just as important. Though small, these milk teeth serve as guidelines for the adult teeth to come in.
If the milk teeth come loose before their time, it will cause the surrounding teeth to move to fill in the gap. This will also disturb the permanent teeth that are forming within the jaw. When the time comes, the permanent teeth may come in crowded or misplaced.
Milk teeth can be lost due to many reasons. Tooth decay in children is a major reason for loss of teeth in childhood. As parents, it is our duty to prevent the onset of tooth decay in our babies. If by any chance signs of tooth decay are recognized in your baby, you must do the needful to reverse it or treat it.
Today, we shall discuss more about tooth decay and the way that we can prevent and correct it. We shall also mention a few home remedies that you can try for the same.
What Is Tooth Decay?
In a healthy oral cavity, a number of bacteria exist to aid in digestion and to maintain the overall health of the mouth. We must practice good oral hygiene habits like brushing to keep their population under control.
When the bacteria grow uncontrolled, the acids that they produce start to eat away the outer layers of the teeth. Tooth decay is basically the destruction and degeneration of the teeth.
When this happens in children, it is known as early childhood tooth decay. This usually affects the front teeth and is often very invasive.
What are the causes of tooth decay in children?
Lack Of Proper Oral Hygiene
If a baby's mouth is not cleaned regularly, it may lead to tooth decay. A baby's mouth must be cleaned with a clean finger or a wet piece of gauze cloth. When the first teeth start to come in, you may start to gently brush your baby's teeth using a small, soft tooth brush and plain water. As the baby becomes 2 years old, he can now understand instructions. You may now start brushing the baby's teeth using toothpaste.
Feeding Babies Too Much Sugar Or Sugary Drinks
Too much sugar will feed the bacteria in the mouth. As your baby is too young to be able to effectively clean his mouth, the sugar will stay in the nooks and corners of the mouth and cause tooth decay.
Milk And Other Sugary Drinks To Sleep
It is often seen that mothers give their babies sugar water, honey water and milk in a bottle, as they go off to sleep. Doing this will cause the sugar to remain in the mouth, while the baby is asleep, and further cause tooth decay.
Sharing Of Saliva
Did you know that the first tooth decay-causing bacteria is introduced into the baby's mouth from the mother's mouth when she kisses the baby on its lips? Saliva introduced into the baby's mouth through kissing or sharing or food and utensils can introduce decay-causing bacteria into the baby's mouth. This together with bad hygiene practices will cause tooth decay.
How to identify tooth decay in your baby?
Early tooth decay can be seen as chalky white patches on the teeth of the baby. It is most commonly seen on the front teeth and it forms close to the gum line. If the tooth decay is identified at this stage, it can be reversed.
Later stage of tooth decay will show brown-coloured patches on the gum line. The decay has set in by this time. A dentist may be able to repair the damage at this point.
When the tooth decay progresses even more, it may cause loss of the tooth structure. It can also cause pain to the child, though it is rare. At this stage, nothing much can be done. Restorative treatment may be done if possible.
Home Remedies For Tooth Decay
There are certain things that you can do at home to prevent the onset of tooth decay. These measures may also help in reversing the process of teeth decay if it is used in the early stages. Read on to know more.
Turmeric is a strong antibacterial agent. It helps in killing the bacteria that cause tooth decay. Take a little turmeric powder and make a paste of it using some coconut oil. Brush your baby's teeth gently using this paste.
Cod Liver Oil
Cod liver oil is rich in vitamin A and other nutrients that re-mineralizes the teeth. It also alters the saliva to prevent the proliferation of tooth decay-causing bacteria. Take a capsule of cod liver oil and burst it using a clean knife or pin. Use a clean finger or a small toothbrush to brush your baby's teeth with it.
Salt water is the most prevalent preservative used in the world. This is because it prevents the growth of bacteria. Add a pinch of salt in a spoonful of warm water. Use this to gently clean your baby's mouth.
Clove and clove oil are very useful in maintaining oral hygiene. They are also used to relieve pain in the case of toothaches. Use 2 drops of clove oil to brush your baby's teeth to prevent tooth decay.
Garlic is a strong anti-fungal and antibacterial agent. Grate some garlic and use the juice obtained to gently brush your child's mouth.
The antibacterial property of the wheat grass helps in preventing tooth decay. Grind some leaves of the wheatgrass and use it to brush the baby's teeth for best results
The root of the licorice plant has anti-cavity properties. If your child is older, you may ask him to chew on the licorice root.
Indian lilac or neem has been used for cleaning teeth since ages in India. If your child is older, you may ask him to brush his teeth with the tender stem of the neem tree. If your child is young, you may crush couple of leaves and brush your child's teeth with the juice.
Indian gooseberry or amla acts as an antibacterial agent. The vitamin C in it helps preserve the teeth. An older child can be made to eat an amla every day. If you have a baby, you can make a mixture of amla powder with water and use it to brush his teeth.
Nutmeg has anti-cariogenic property. Add some nutmeg powder to a couple of drops of clove oil. Use this to brush the baby's teeth to prevent and re-mineralise teeth.
Cutting Down On Sweets
Sweets are considered to be the main culprit in the formation of tooth decay. Limit the use of sweets and you can keep tooth decay at bay.
Eliminate Phytic Acid
Phytic acid is seen in the bran region of grains and other such foods. This can contribute to the formation of cavities. To prevent tooth decay, make sure that you give a few sips of water to your baby. This will keep the baby's mouth clean and will also dilute the phytic acid. Better yet, you can avoid feeding the baby substances that produce phytic acids.
Consume Raw Dairy
Raw dairy products contain an abundance of calcium. Ingesting such products will make sure that any decay in the teeth gets re-mineralized.
Consume Nutrient-rich Foods
Lack of proper nutrition can cause the immunity to weaken. Tooth decay causing bacteria can thrive in a person who has a weak immunity. Therefore, it is important that your baby consumes a good amount of nutritious foods.
Use Mineralized Toothpaste
There are toothpastes that contain substances that aid in re-mineralization. These are known as mineralized toothpastes. Use these to prevent and correct the damage to your teeth.
Oil pulling is a method where raw coconut oil is swished around in the mouth for around 10 minutes before spitting it out. This can only be done by an older child but the method is very effective. The antibacterial properties of the coconut oil will prevent any cavity formation. It also whitens the teeth.