Tooth decay, or cavities, is the most common dental problem among children, yet it is preventable. Tooth decay can begin as soon as a baby’s first tooth comes in. In New York City, more than one out of three third-grade students have untreated tooth decay.
Once tooth decay develops, it must be treated by a dental professional or it will worsen. Signs of tooth decay are white or brown spots on the teeth.
If left untreated, tooth decay can cause a variety of health problems, including:
Sugary foods and drinks, such as cookies, candy and soda can cause tooth decay.
Milk and formula have sugar too. The sugars in drinks other than water can cause tooth decay when they stay on the teeth for too long.
Babies are born without the germs that cause tooth decay. They get these germs from saliva that is passed from the mouths of adults to their mouth.
Some of the ways that saliva might be shared with a baby are by sharing a spoon or piece of food, or by cleaning off a pacifier with saliva instead of water. As soon as germs are in a child’s mouth, the process that causes tooth decay can start, even before the child has teeth.