Understanding and Preventing Baby Bottle Tooth Decay in Your Child


Strong and Healthy Baby Teeth

Too often, parents do not understand that their child’s baby teeth are important enough to keep healthy. They think since they will eventually fall out, that they’re not as important as their permanent teeth. This is the furthest from the truth. All children need to keep their teeth healthy and strong so that they have a great smile and more importantly, so that they can chew their food with no problem! Baby bottle tooth decay is a disease seen in infants and toddlers and usually occurs in the upper front teeth. It is vital that parents help their child maintain proper oral hygiene, especially when they are babies and can’t do it themselves.

Sugar Can Quickly Lead to Decay

Frequent and prolonged exposure to beverages that have vast amounts of sugar can lead to baby bottle tooth decay. While most parents know that it is a bad idea to give a baby a sugary drink, they may not realize that many kid’s drinks, such as fruit juice, have too much sugar in them. Even cow’s milk and formula have sugar that can eventually decay the child’s teeth if they are exposed to it often. When a baby is put to bed with a bottle containing a drink loaded with sugar, their teeth and gums will be coated in the liquid for hours on end, in turn feeding the bacteria that turns into plaque. Even a small amount of sugar in a drink can eventually lead to baby bottle tooth decay. The best (and simplest!) way to avoid the problem is to never allow your child to fall asleep with a bottle.

Pacifier and Breast-Feeding Basics

Tooth decay doesn’t always happen because of a bottle. Many parents will dip a pacifier into either a sugary drink, honey or syrup to give to their baby to calm them. Repeated use of a sugar-coated pacifier will often lead to tooth decay in the baby or toddler. To prevent this, only give a clean, dry pacifier to a baby; never dip it into a sugary substance in order to pacify them. Additionally, a breast-fed baby who suckles for long periods of time can also develop tooth decay. While breast-feeding a baby when they are hungry is extremely important, cleaning their teeth afterwards with a small amount on non-fluoride toothpaste (fluoride can be used when the child is old enough to spit) will help prevent tooth decay.

Bring Your Child for a Check-Up

It’s important to keep your child’s teeth clean and healthy from the start. A child should be brought to see the dentist when they are between the ages of six and 12 months for their first check-up. Our staff at Growing Smiles Family and Pediatric Dentistry are proud to serve you and your family with exceptional care!

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