Baby Bottle Tooth Decay
Pediatric Dentist Oregon City, OR
Although they may only be temporary, your child’s baby teeth are important for chewing, speaking, and smiling. Even at this early stage, they are susceptible to cavities. Assuming baby teeth aren’t important and neglecting them can lead to infections, pain, and in severe cases tooth removal or years of dental visits such as wearing braces. Tooth decay in infants and toddlers, commonly referred to as Baby Bottle Tooth Decay or Early Childhood Caries, is the biggest threat to a kid’s permanent teeth growing in correctly and in healthy condition.
How the baby teeth are treated directly affects the teeth replacing them. If a baby’s tooth becomes infected or is lost too early due to tooth decay, your child is at greatly increased risk of developing poor eating habits, speech impediments, crooked teeth, or damaged adult teeth. Overall, the better condition the baby teeth are in when they fall out, the better conditions adult teeth will have in the mouth when they erupt.
Taking care of your kids’ temporary chompers gives their permanent teeth the best chance at emerging properly for that bright, healthy smile. If you have any questions about Baby Bottle Tooth Decay, how to best care for your kids’ baby teeth, or how to schedule a visit, please call Great Grins for KIDS - Oregon City today at 971-470-0045.
What Causes Baby Bottle Tooth Decay?
Tooth decay during early childhood is most commonly caused through frequent and long-term exposure of kids’ teeth to liquids containing natural sugars (milk, formula, fruit juices, sodas, and other sweetened drinks). It typically begins in the upper front teeth, though other teeth might also be affected. Children who are given pacifiers dipped in sugar, syrup, or honey are also at risk. Because these sugars cling to our teeth for a long time, the bacteria in the mouth thrive on eating them as well as other simple carbohydrates we consume.
Those bacteria, in turn, produce acids, which attack the teeth. Of course, it is understandable that parents want to allow their babies the pleasure of something sweet now and then, particularly when they’re picky about food, crying for extended periods, or struggling to get to sleep among other obstacles. Nonetheless, sweets should not be any parent’s go-to solution for soothing their child or helping them get their daily required meals & nap.
It should be noted that bacteria can also be passed from the parent to their baby if the child is given a bottle, feeding spoon, or pacifier that has been washed with the parents’ saliva. In other words, just licking the object clean isn’t enough. Any & all items before entering your kid’s mouth should be washed properly with water, to avoid potentially harmful bacteria clinging to their teeth.
Sign of Tooth Decay In Babies
The most effective way for any parent to combat early childhood tooth decay is vigilance. Paying attention to your child’s baby teeth can help you catch a problem before it starts. Tooth decay may first appear in babies as white spots along the upper front teeth’s gum line, which are often difficult to see at first even for a dentist or doctor without the proper equipment. If you suspect your kids are showing early signs of decay, you should take them to be examined by one of our specialists Dr. Fariba Mutschler or Dr. Mark Mutschler. Do not wait to see if the problem gets worse.
How Do I Prevent Baby Bottle Tooth Decay?
In addition to keeping a watchful eye on your child’s teeth, there are other methods to make sure Baby Bottle Tooth Decay never rears its ugly head. These include but are not limited to:
|Take good care of your oral health while pregnant, before your child is even born. It is important to get dental care during this period.
|From birth to 12 months old, whether you choose to breast-feed or not, keep your baby’s mouth clean by gently wiping the corners of the mouth and the gums with a clean washcloth.
|When baby teeth begin erupting, gently brush them with a soft baby toothbrush and smear (size of a grain of rice) of fluoride toothpaste.
|From 12 to 36 months old, brush your child’s teeth twice a day for two minutes each. The most appropriate times to brush are after breakfast and before bed. Use only a smear of fluoride toothpaste until kid’s third birthday.
|Avoid giving your baby or toddler soda, juices, or sugar-water in their bottle.
|Never put your baby to bed with a bottle or food. Because the rate of saliva decreases during sleep, this increases the likelihood of sugars from food & drink clinging to the teeth for longer.
|Check if your water is fluoridated. Your child’s teeth will benefit from drinking water with fluoride in it. If you get your tap water from a well or other non-fluoridated source, we may ask for a sample to test its natural fluoride levels. If your water contains too little or no fluoride, a fluoride supplement may be prescribed. You can also apply fluoride to your baby’s teeth to prevent decay.
|Limit sweet or sticky foods to meal times only. Cookies, candies, gummies, fruit roll-ups, and even crackers or chips (These also contain sugar) should only be consumed in moderation. Additionally, teach your kids as soon as possible to clean food off their teeth with their tongues.
|Serve sweet drinks like juice only at meals or not at all. For babies younger than six months, it is not recommended to give them juices. If this is fed to children that young, it should only be 4 ounces per day and be diluted with water (half water, half juice) to reduce the sugar. For children between 1-6 years of age, any juice served should be limited to 4-6 ounces per day. Pure fruit juices can be part of a healthy diet but contain vitamins that come with a lot of sugar.
|Teach your kids to drink from a cup A.S.A.P. Most babies are developed enough to stop using bottles by 14 months, and many parents highly recommend sippy-cups for an easier start.
Lastly, you should make an appointment with us at Great Grins for KIDS - Oregon City to start your child’s dental care before the age of 1. To speak with us about making an appointment, remember to call our office at 971-470-0045.