Gingivitis is a gum disease caused by bacteria in the mouth. Everyone has these bacteria; the organisms in the mouth feed on sugar. Babies aren’t born with the gingivitis bacteria in their mouths, but they do acquire the bacteria. It is important for parents or caregivers to properly clean the mouths of infants and babies who are cutting teeth. These sugar eating bacteria are carried in the saliva. Gingivitis can occur in babies as well as children and adults. The bacteria can be transferred from the saliva of one person to another. When the teeth start to appear, babies can be at risk for developing gingivitis. Proper care from infancy can control the growth of bacteria in the baby’s mouth that could eventually cause gum disease.
Gingivitis in babies can result in decay of the deciduous (baby) teeth. Decaying baby teeth are a problem. Many parents aren’t very concerned about tooth decay in babies, because they will lose those teeth anyway. This kind of thinking can result in great harm to the baby. Baby teeth can become abscessed when there is a great deal of decay. Gingivitis can result from poor dental oral and dental hygiene in any person of any age.
Causes of gingivitis in babies
When the deciduous teeth are decayed, the baby can experience toothaches, abscesses and gingivitis. The pain can be intense just as it is for adults. The causes of gingivitis in babies often begin when the baby starts taking formula or the breast. Essentially, frequent oral contact with carbohydrates, in the form of breast milk, formula, milk, juice, glucose water, soda pop and any other sweet food or liquid can promote tooth decay and gingivitis. The mouth is a warm, moist environment for the bacteria to live and the sweet foods and drinks provide plenty of nourishment for the bacteria to thrive.
Prevent gingivitis in babies
Preventing gingivitis in babies is as simple as keeping your baby’s mouth clean. After feeding your baby, take a second to gently wipe his/her gums off with a moist cloth or gauze. There is a product called Tooth Tissues that parents can use to clean their baby’s mouth. Parents should consult their baby’s pediatrician about using Tooth Tissues. Baby toothpaste with fluoride can be used to clean the baby’s mouth. It isn’t necessary to use a toothbrush on the baby’s mouth, but doing so will help him/her get accustomed to brushing his/her teeth. Toothpaste made for babies with fluoride is safe to use in the baby’s mouth and it is also safe for the baby when swallowed.
There are a number of things that you can do to prevent gingivitis in your baby’s mouth. It’s important to not add sugar or give sugary drinks to your baby. It is important to offer water in the baby’s bottle several times a day to help rinse the mouth of formula, breast milk, or other liquids.
Many parents don’t see the harm in adding sugar to the baby’s diet. They don’t see the harm in offering sugary soft drinks. It is the sugar that feeds the germs that cause gingivitis; therefore, it is important to avoid sugar as much as possible. Some parents dip the baby’s pacifier in sugar or honey; this practice can be just as bad as giving sugary drinks. Sugar can be addicting, even to babies. When they get accustomed to the sweet treats, they may want to eat or drink them more often than is healthy. Aside from dental reasons, too much sugar can lead to obesity.
Never let your baby go to bed with a bottle in his/her mother. Also, don’t let your baby linger at your breast while he/she is sleeping. The baby is bound to suck on the nipple while asleep; this can cause the feeding ground for the sugar eating bacteria, and there is also a risk for aspiration while the baby is asleep. By the time your baby has reached the age of 1, he/she should be taught how to drink from a cup or a sippy cup. It’s just as important to monitor a toddler with a sippy cup. Constant sipping can also cause the child to be at risk for gingivitis and other oral and dental problems. Ask your baby’s pediatrician or dentist about ways to keep your baby’s mouth healthy to prevent gingivitis and tooth decay.
A video of using tooth tissues for giving oral and dental care can be seen here.