Some toddlers get tooth decay and cavities very early. This can be frustrating for parents and unpleasant for children. Knowing what causes tooth decay in toddlers and what you can do if your toddler gets tooth decay can help you take care of your child's teeth. 

How can your toddler get tooth decay?

There are several factors that can cause a toddler to get tooth decay, including:

  • Genetics. Some children are just pre-disposed toward tooth decay. There are several different genes that have been linked to the tooth decay problem.
  • Transfer of tooth bacteria. New findings have revealed that parents can actually pass tooth-decay-causing bacteria on to their children through saliva transfer.
  • Night feeding. Some toddlers get comfort from bottles when it's time to go to sleep. When they fall asleep, juice or milk sits in their mouth for a long time. This is like going to bed without brushing your teeth, and can give your child cavities over time.

What can you do to protect your child from tooth decay?

As a parent, there are many things that you can do to protect your child's teeth--even when your child is only just a toddler.

  • Take your child to a dentist experienced with pediatric issues. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that you take your child to the dentist for the first time when the first tooth erupts from the gums, or when he or she turns one year old. Taking your child to a dentist experienced with patients your child's age will help make those visits as productive as possible. To find the right dentist ahead of time, call family dentistry practices and find a dentist who has experience with pediatric patients (and, more specifically, toddlers).
  • Find out about fluoride. Some communities don't put fluoride in their water. Find out if your community puts fluoride in your water, and if your water isn't fluoridated, ask your child's dentist whether or not you should be giving your child supplemental fluoride drops.
  • Brush your child's teeth. Toddlers need to have their teeth brushed just as much as adults. Buy toothpaste and a toothbrush specially designed for toddlers, then brush your child's teeth twice each day.
  • Avoid giving your child a bottle at bed time. If your child drinks from a bottle when it's time to go to bed, try transitioning your child to a pacifier when it's time to go to sleep.
  • Avoid eating from your child's spoons. Eating from the same utensil as your child can cause a transfer of bacteria from your mouth to your toddler's mouth.

For more information about how you can protect your toddler from tooth decay, talk to your child's dentist. He or she can tell you what steps to take and can offer more advice.

For family dentistry, contact an office such as Sarah M. LYNCH DMD.