Your child's baby teeth are important, and still susceptible to cavities. Tooth decay in infants and toddlers is often referred to as Baby Bottle Tooth Decay, or Early Childhood Caries. Baby bottle tooth decay happens when sweetened liquids or those with natural sugars (like milk, formula, and fruit juice) cling to an infant's teeth for a long time. Bacteria in the mouth thrive on this sugar and make acids that attack the teeth.
Children need strong, healthy teeth to chew their food, speak and have a good-looking smile. Their first teeth also help make sure their adult teeth come in correctly. It’s important to start infants off with good oral care to help protect their teeth for decades to come.
If teeth are infected or lost too early due to baby bottle tooth decay, your child may develop poor eating habits, speech problems, crooked teeth, and damaged adult teeth. In addition, the chances that adult teeth will end up being crooked are greatly increased.
What Causes Baby Bottle Tooth Decay?
Although baby bottle tooth decay typically happens in the upper front teeth, other teeth may also be affected.
Tooth decay is a disease that can begin with cavity-causing bacteria being passed from the mother (or primary caregiver) to the infant. These bacteria are passed through the saliva. When the mother puts the baby’s feeding spoon in her mouth, or cleans a pacifier in her mouth, the bacteria can be passed to the baby.
Adequate amount of fluoride will help to prevent tooth decay.
Now to the good news: decay is preventable!
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.
• Brush your child’s teeth gently with a child-size toothbrush and a smear (or grain of rice sized amount) of fluoride toothpaste until the age of 3. Use the pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste from the ages of 3 to 6.
• When your child is at the age of 6 or 7, supervise brushing. Ensure that your child spits and not swallows toothpaste.
• Avoid filling the bottle with liquids such as sugar water, juice or soft drinks. Use only formula, milk or breast milk in bottles.
• 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.
\When your child’s first tooth appears, talk to your dentist about scheduling the first dental visit. Treat the first dental visit as you would a well-baby checkup with the child’s physician. If you have any questions call office of Dr. Alina Bergan at 800-223-0801 to schedule an appointment. You can also schedule online at http://www.alinabergandds.com/appointments/