Preventing baby bottle tooth decay involves certain steps taken by you to protect developing primary teeth. Baby bottle tooth decay commonly strikes the upper front teeth, but other teeth may also be susceptible. Factors that lead to tooth decay in infants and toddlers are often linked to prolonged exposure of primary teeth to drinks that contain sugar–this includes milk, not just juice. Putting a baby to bed with a bottle is a commonly used technique to help soothe the baby or aid in sleeping. Pacifiers are sometimes used as well. The sugars found on the bottle, in the milk the baby is drinking, and the sugars found on the pacifier can expose your child to hours of tooth decay promoting bacteria. Consider the following tips to help reduce the risk that your child will develop baby bottle tooth decay.
What is Baby Bottle Tooth Decay?
Baby bottle tooth decay is an umbrella term used to describe tooth decay in infants and toddlers. Although primary teeth will eventually fall out, they play an important role in the speech, nutrition and permanent teeth development of your infant and child. Safeguarding the health of these teeth is essential for healthy growth and development. The first stop to preventing any condition is understanding it. You need to understand what causes baby bottle tooth decay, what symptoms and characteristics identify the condition and why you need to do something about it. Children develop tooth decay for many different reasons. Most cases of baby bottle tooth decay result from continual and extended exposure of baby’s teeth to sugar via drinks, milk or juices. Putting a baby to bed with a bottle before bed keeps these sugars on the child’s teeth for hours.
How Do You Prevent Baby Bottle Tooth Decay?
There are some simple steps for you to follow to help you prevent tooth decay from happening to your child. The American Dental Association provides the following tips for preventing baby bottle tooth decay:
- Try not to share saliva with the baby through common use of feeding spoons or licking pacifiers. After each feeding, wipe your child’s gums with a clean, damp gauze pad or washcloth.
- When your child’s teeth come in, brush them gently with a child-size toothbrush and a smear (or grain of rice sized amount) of fluoride toothpaste until the age of 3.
- Brush the teeth with a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste from the ages of 3 to 6.
- Supervise brushing until your child can be counted on to spit and not swallow toothpaste—usually not before he or she is 6 or 7.
- Place only formula, milk or breast milk in bottles. Avoid filling the bottle with liquids such as sugar water, juice or soft drinks.
- Infants should finish their bedtime and nap time bottles before going to bed.
- If your child uses a pacifier, provide one that is clean—don’t dip it in sugar or honey.
- Encourage your child to drink from a cup by his/her first birthday.
- Encourage healthy eating habits.
Baby’s First Exam
Schedule an infant oral exam early on to safeguard your child’s oral and total body wellness. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends children be seen for an exam as early as one year of age or within six months of the eruption of the first baby tooth. We want to partner with you so that you can start this journey with your baby empowered with the best education and prevention strategies and tips we can offer you for success. Infant dental exams help introduce your child to the importance of oral health care while educating you on how to find success with it at home.
Call for a Baby Tooth Decay Consultation
Baby bottle tooth decay is a real problem that needs to be taken seriously to safeguard your child’s oral health. Call our office for a consultation and to schedule an infant dental exam. Dr. Niles is a family dentist in Niwot, Colorado, with convenient access to the communities of Boulder, Longmont, Lafayette, and Louisville. Niles Family Dentistry offers state-of-the-art family dentistry and cosmetic dentistry. Call for your appointment today at (720) 744-0001. We look forward to meeting you and your family!