What is baby bottle tooth caries?
Baby bottle tooth decay is caused by the frequent and long-term exposure of a child's teeth to liquids containing sugars. Among these liquids are milk, formula, fruit juice, sodas and other sweetened drinks.
The condition is associated with breastfed and bottle fed infants who have prolonged feeding habits or with children whose pacifiers are frequently dipped in honey, sugar or syrup. The sweet fluids left in the mouth while the infant is sleeping increase the chances of cavities.
Why should I be worried about baby bottle tooth decay?
Giving an infant a sugary drink at nap or nighttime is harmful because, during sleep, the flow of saliva decreases, allowing the sugary liquids to linger on the child's teeth for an extended period of time. If left untreated, decay can result, which can cause pain and infection. Severely decayed teeth may need to be extracted. 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.
How can I prevent baby bottle tooth decay?
1. Never allow a child to fall asleep with a bottle containing milk, formula, juice or other sweetened liquids.
2. Clean and massage the baby's gums to help establish healthy teeth with a moistened gauze square or washcloth.
3. Brushing should begin upon eruption of the first baby tooth. When brushing a child's teeth, use a soft toothbrush and water.
4. Parents should first bring their child to the dentist when the child is between 6 and 12 months old for a checkup.
5. Decrease consumption of sugar, especially between meals.
6. Children should be weaned from the bottle as soon as they can drink from a cup, usually by their first birthday.