Baby bottle tooth decay is the term used to describe dental decay in young children. The term itself is somewhat of a misnomer since the use of a bottle alone does not lead to tooth decay.
Regardless, tooth decay in young children is serious problem that parents should be aware of. Even though a child’s baby teeth will be replaced by permanent ones when he or she is older, they still play a role in the child’s ability to eat solid foods, talk, and smile.
Common Causes of Baby Bottle Tooth Decay:
- Exposure to sugary drinks for long periods of time
- Mother cleans a pacifier by placing it her mouth before giving it to her child (the mother’s germs are passed on to the child)
- Lack of fluoride
- Fruit juice
- Child falls asleep with bottle
It’s not uncommon for parents to dip their child’s pacifier in fruit juice or some other sweet substance before giving it their child. Yes, this will typically encourage the child to take it, which in turn may cause them to go to sleep, but it also increases the risk of baby bottle tooth decay. As the baby sucks on the pacifier, their teeth are exposed to abrasive, cavity-causing sugars.
Avoid dipping your child’s pacifier in any substance. Instead, clean it by boiling it in a pot of water on stove for 5-10 minutes before letting it cool completely. This is the safest way to kill any germs lingering behind without placing your child at risk for tooth decay.
Allowing a baby to fall asleep with a bottle of milk may also lead to baby bottle tooth decay. The longer the bottle is left in the child’s mouth, the greater the risk for cavities. This is due to the fact that sugar is constantly coating their teeth, gradually wearing down the enamel. If your child prefers to fall asleep with a bottle, fill it with water rather than milk, fruit juice, or any other sugary beverage.
Tips To Prevent Baby Bottle Tooth Decay:
- Remove the bottle from your child’s hands once he or she falls asleep
- Clean your child’s gums by wrapping a moist strip of gauze around your finger and massaging the inside of their mouth
- Avoid giving your child large amounts of fruit juice. Even 100% natural fruit juice is loaded with cavity-causing acids and sugar
- Brush your child’s teeth teeth by using a pea-sized drop of ADA-approved fluoride toothpaste
- Cut out the candy. Although children love sweet treats, it promotes a bad habit that can easily lead to cavity development
If you have questions about child dental care, or if you would like to schedule an appointment with one of our dentists in Little Rock, contact Little Rock Family Dental Care at (501) 954-9900. We would love to help you!