Protect Your Child’s Teeth From Baby Bottle Decay

The most common chronic disease in children is tooth decay. Children are often exposed to the bacteria that cause tooth decay, S. mutans, as a baby or infant from a mother’s mouth or frequent use of a bottle or pacifier. Here’s what you need to know about childhood decay, also called baby bottle tooth decay:

What is baby bottle decay?

Bab…

The most common chronic disease in children is tooth decay. Children are often exposed to the bacteria that cause tooth decay, S. mutans, as a baby or infant from a mother’s mouth or frequent use of a bottle or pacifier. Here’s what you need to know about childhood decay, also called baby bottle tooth decay:

What is baby bottle decay?

Baby bottle decay is what happens when the acids from sugary liquids in a bottle attack a baby’s teeth. The sugar sticks to the infant’s teeth, creating a breeding ground for destructive bacteria.

Mothers may put sweetened water, fruit juice, milk, or formula in a baby’s bottle. Since the flow of saliva decreases during sleep, allowing a baby to fall asleep with a bottle increases the risk of decay because the sugar can’t be washed away. Some moms might also dip the pacifier in sugar to calm the baby, but the sugar has the same effect as a bottle.

Why is baby bottle decay a problem?

Your child’s teeth are at risk as soon as they appear, which is usually around six months of age. The outer enamel layer of primary teeth is weaker and thinner, and can easily be destroyed. It usually occurs in the upper front teeth, but once the tooth starts to decay, it can spread and needs to be taken care of as soon as possible.

Tooth decay causes cavities and infections. If left untreated, the cavity can cause toothaches, pain, and difficulty eating and speaking. Teeth do not heal, so a cavity usually needs to be restored with a filling, crown, or root canal to prevent further complications. If the decay is too severe, the tooth may need to be extracted.

Primary teeth hold space in the mouth for adult teeth to come in properly. If a baby tooth is lost too early, other teeth may shift into the space, causing crowding and alignment problems for permanent teeth.

How can I prevent baby bottle decay?

Don’t let your child fall asleep with a bottle containing anything other than water. If you want to give a bottle with milk or juice, limit it to mealtimes and clean your baby’s teeth and gums after drinking. It’s best to encourage your child to drink from a regular cup, not a sippy cup, by his or her first birthday. If you give your baby a pacifier, make sure it is clean before every use.

When the first tooth begins to erupt, brush it daily with a soft child’s toothbrush and water. Around age one, take your child to Dr. Erpenbach to ensure that there are no dental or developmental problems. This will also prepare your infant for a healthy oral routine. Contact Knoxville Dentist in Knoxville, TN at 865-329-7815 to schedule an appointment to check your child’s teeth.