Can Babies Get Cavities?

Oct 01, 2023
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Since babies typically don’t eat a lot of foods that are the usual cause of cavities, is it even possible for them to deal with tooth decay? We answer that question and more here.

The time your baby gets their first tooth is an exciting milestone to celebrate. You should notice that around age 6 months — or even as early as 3 months — your baby should get their first tooth. 

Because your child’s primary teeth are eventually going to fall out, it can be tempting to think that taking good care of them isn’t all that necessary. However, as soon as your baby’s first tooth pokes through, they’re already at risk for developing cavities — also referred to as dental caries. 

Taking care of these baby teeth is vital because those first teeth hold space for your child’s permanent teeth, and starting good oral hygiene early creates a strong foundation for the health of their teeth moving forward.       

Since your baby’s teeth can be vulnerable to tooth decay and cavities, our  First Dental Associates team, led by Nasrin Sadeghi, DMD, and Medha Singh, BDS, DMD, MS, and located in Reading, Massachusetts, want to review how these cavities can develop in the first place and how to prevent them. 

What causes cavities in babies?

Cavities happen when damage occurs to the strong outer layer of your baby’s teeth — known as enamel. Bacteria live in your baby’s mouth, and when they eat or drink anything that contains sugar, that bacteria feeds on the sugary substance and turns it into an acid.

The combination of the acid, bacteria, sugar, and saliva creates a sticky film called plaque. Altogether, these things can start eating away at your baby’s teeth and allow cavities to form.

While your baby isn’t likely consuming very many sugary foods such as candy, naturally occurring sugars in breast milk and formula can still lead to the formation of damaging acids and plaque. The risk for cavities increases if your baby goes to sleep with a bottle. 

In addition, if your baby has started drinking fruit juice or eating pureed foods, those things can start to decay their teeth.

How to help prevent cavities 

Tooth decay is the most common chronic health problem in children, and 23% of kids will have a cavity before their fifth birthday. So, it’s absolutely imperative that you take steps to take care of your baby’s teeth as soon as that first tooth appears. 

These are some guidelines you can follow to help prevent cavities from forming on your baby’s teeth:

  • Don’t allow them to have bottles or cups in bed
  • Try to avoid letting them drink juice before they’re 12 months old
  • Brush your baby’s teeth twice a day
  • Introduce sippy cups and take away the bottle at 12 months of age
  • Have them drink water whenever possible

It’s also important to have them start seeing us for regular dental visits when their first tooth comes in or by their first birthday, whichever comes first. This allows us to check for any signs of cavities and make sure there are no other reasons to worry about their oral health.

It’s never too early to bring in your child for their first dental visit. To schedule an appointment with our expert and caring team, you can call our office at 781-438-1312 or book online with us today.