Baby Bottle Tooth Decay is a dental condition characterized by massive decay of an infant or toddlers teeth. It is particularly seen in the upper an lower incisors, but may also be seen in the molars as well.
The decay may first appear as small brown spots on the teeth and quickly progress to more rampant decay which can rapidly destroy an entire tooth if nothing is done to prevent it.
Your Child needs strong, healthy baby teeth. Just because they will eventually fall out, doesn’t mean that they aren’t just as important as permanent teeth. Healthy baby teeth help your child to chew food, speak, and have enough space in their jaw for adult teeth to grow in properly.
When teeth come in contact with too much sugar for an extended period of time, bacteria are able to grow. It’s the acid in this bacteria that causes decay.
Many of the liquids your child drinks contain sugar. Milk, fruit juices, and even formula have sugar in them. The frequency of drinking these sugary liquids is also important. When children sleep, walk or play with a bottle or sippy cup in hand, sugar coats the teeth for longer periods of time, causing tooth decay more quickly.
Tips to help prevent tooth decay:
- NEVER let a child sleep with a bottle or sippy cup filled with milk, juice, or other sugary liquids.
- Put your child to bed with only water in the bottle.
- Give children 6-12 months only formula in a bottle.
- Remove the bottle or stop nursing when the child has fallen asleep.
- Avoid letting your child walk around with a bottle or sippy cup with anything but water in it.
- Avoid prolonged use of pacifiers, and NEVER dip a pacifier in sugar, syrup or honey.
- Begin teaching your child to use a cup around 6 to 8 months of age.
- Try to stop using a bottle by age 12 to 14 months.
- Limit the consumption of juice to less than 6 oz. a day and only at meal times.
- Limit the amount of starchy snack foods given during the day. Substitute fruits and vegetables when possible.
Caring for your Childs teeth:
After feeding your baby, gently wipe their gums with a soft clean wash cloth or gauze to remove plaque and bacteria. Once your child has teeth, begin tooth brushing with a fluoride free toothpaste. You can switch to a fluoride tooth paste once you are sure your child is spitting out all of the toothpaste after brushing. Always use a soft nylon bristle toothbrush. Begin flossing when all of the baby teeth have erupted (around 2 and a half), or when the teeth touch.
When to see the Dentist:
Inspect your Childs teeth on a regular basis and begin seeing a Dentist for regular exams and cleanings once all of the baby teeth have erupted. This usually occurs by the age of 2 or 3 years.
If you ever suspect a dental problem is present, or your child is experiencing any difficulties eating, it is always best to consult your family physician or Dental professional for advice.
Routine exams at a young age can be as often as every 6 months, or up to yearly, depending on the Childs home care and prior dental care.
Dental x-rays begin when the child has both sets of baby molars in place, or at the age of cooperation.