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Good dental hygiene is your own responsibility

Good dental hygiene is your own responsibility


by Dr. Naale Rose  15.SEP.06

Promoting good oral health is a phrase which means different things to different people.

Imagine … you are a single woman in your twenties or with a husband working abroad. You are totally preoccupied trying to cope with daily events and three children that seem overwhelming.{{more}}

You feel frustrated and angry about your own life situation as even dental workers target you saying you must do better for both yourself and your children. If only your children were able to help take care of themselves and you had a chance to make something of yourself. Maybe then you would be able to work on your family’s oral health.

The scenario of the mother and her children is all too common and is not limited to developing countries. The fact is that a majority of people worldwide are struggling just to survive and not deserving of our chastisement. For many people health is simply surviving without major debilitating diseases. At best, health is having enough land, food and water, and educating one’s children. Living in peace and safe-guarding values like caring, sharing, belonging and being able to look forward to a better tomorrow are other preoccupations.

Unfortunately the majority of the public has come to believe that their own oral health and that of their children is really the responsibility of dental workers.

The instrument to overcoming this problem is dental health education. Let us look at simple steps to help parents prevent a common dental disease – Baby bottle caries (tooth decay).

Baby bottle caries is another name for early childhood caries. This is simply a type of dental caries or tooth decay. It is caused by the erosion of the enamel (which is the white coating that covers the teeth).

Most parents pay little or no attention to this until the child starts complaining. They then go to their clinics seeking extractions. To them, it is baby teeth and it will grow back, regardless if the child is two years old or under. Other parents may notice brown stain and erosion of the enamel and may come inquiring.

What Causes baby bottle caries?

Letting your child fall asleep with the bottle. When the baby is asleep the fluids that contain sugar stay around the teeth causing decay.

Prolonged nursing or letting the baby fall asleep while nursing can also lead to tooth decay. Breast milk does contain sugar.

Allowing the infant to walk around with the bottle is a third cause.

Baby bottle caries can be prevented.


1. Get into the habit of putting your baby to bed without a bottle;
2. Avoid putting the formula, milk, juice, or sugar water in the baby bottle;
3. If you chose to give your child a bottle, fill it with water;
4. For ages 0-2 wipe gums with a clean washcloth. Start gently brushing with a soft bristle at the sight of the first tooth;
5. For ages 2-4 brush along with your child, helping to hold the brush. Use a Colgate Sponge Bob soft bristle toothbrush with sponge toothpaste;
6. Start teaching your child to use a feeding cup between ages 6-12 months;
7. Check with your dentist to make sure your child is getting enough fluoride;
8. Get a dental check-up twice a year for both you and your child;
9. Remember children do what they see you do as parents so practice good oral hygiene and they will follow;
10. Train your child to develop the habit of drinking lots of water;
11. Brushing after meals or cleaning their teeth after a feeding;
12. Brushing just before bedtime is most important;
13. Eat healthy foods and try avoiding snacking.


• Teeth may or may not be painful depending on the severity
• Sensitivity to hot or cold or sweets

Effects of baby bottle caries:

1. Tooth loss – teeth are there for a purpose whether primary or permanent; The primary ones maintain space for the permanent teeth;
2. Crooked permanent teeth – when baby teeth are extracted too early, sometime the other teeth move causing less space for the permanent teeth;
3. Severe pain;
4. Tooth decay;
5. Ear and speech problems.