“Rotten Truth of Tooth Decay,” Los Angeles Times, July 4, 2011.

“Oral infection is the No. 1 chronic disease in children–five times more prevalent than asthma–and experts estimate that more than 50% of children will have some tooth decay by age 5,” reports the LA Times in a special section devoted to dental issues in babies and children.  Pediatric dentists explain how tooth decay in childhood often leads to tooth decay in adulthood.  The importance of education and awareness is emphasized as the key to changing the course of a child’s future oral health.

According to the LA Times article, tooth decay in infancy and childhood can lead to some long-term problems, including:

  • impaired speech development
  • poor nutrition
  • missed school days


When the front two teeth have to be removed due to decay, toddlers have difficulty forming words such as “the” or “two.”  If nutritious foods require more chewing with strong teeth, those with tooth pain will opt for soft foods such as bread instead of dense nutritious food such as meat and vegetables.  And, numerous studies show that tooth pain is a leading cause of missed school days, resulting in poor learning.


Although many parents do not take their child to the dentist until the 5th birthday, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry has been spreading the message “first visit by first birthday.”   The care of gums and teeth begins in infancy, explain the dentists, adding that the most common misconception is that primary teeth are less important than permanent ones.  As we mentioned earlier, primary teeth determine future oral health.


Pediatric dentists suggest cleaning a baby’s mouth and gums with a soft and damp washcloth. This removes food particles and bacteria and gets the baby used to daily oral hygiene. When the teeth erupt, some dentists suggest cleaning the child’s teeth at least twice a day with an extremely soft-bristled brush.

One of the main habits to avoid is putting baby to bed with a bottle.  The milk remains on baby’s teeth and causes decay, often referred to as “baby bottle tooth decay”  Also be aware when giving juice instead of water to baby, it also puts leaves on their teeth.  If baby drinks juice, try and follow with some water to rinse the teeth.  The lingering acid is the cause of  decay, eventually creating cavities in baby teeth.

Although poor dental health in children transcends social and economic boundaries,  through parent education we can improve the oral health of the young.


  1. Practicing good oral health in your family will help protect your child’s bright smile and future. Taking good care of your child’s teeth is important. your child should visit a dentist by the time he or she reaches one year of age to stop baby bottle tooth decay.

  2. Good dental hygiene for your baby is extremely important. You should start caring for the baby’s gums even before the teeth come in so that we can protect from baby tooth decay. You are right about that overdoses of fluoride are dangerous for children. Nice post. Post again.

  3. be aware when giving juice instead of water to baby, it also leaves acid on their teeth. Make it a habit to wipe clean your baby’s teeth every time after feeding. through parent education we can improve the oral health of the that we can protect from baby bottle tooth decay. nice blog.

    • Hi Andy:

      Thanks for re-emphasizing a point we discussed in this post. It is extremely important to wipe bay’s teeth clean after drinking milk or juice. We can not repeat this too many times!!!

  4. Pingback: Baby Tooth Decay | Stellar Caterpillar | ABC Smiles

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