Baby bottle tooth decay is the severe decay of the baby teeth of infants and young children. It occurs with the frequent and prolonged exposure to drinks that contain sugar (this includes natural sugars found in breast milk, formula, soda, and fruit juices). The sugar in these liquids coats your child’s teeth and turns into acid. The acid attacks the enamel on the teeth. This causes your child to get cavities.
Your baby can get prolonged exposure from the sugary liquids by getting put to bed with a bottle or using the bottle as a pacifier. During the day, your baby swallows most of the sugary liquids, but when they’re sleeping, they don’t swallow as much. This causes the liquids to sit in their mouth.
Your baby can get cavities as soon as your child’s first tooth erupts, and it most often occurs in the upper front teeth, but any tooth may be affected. It can also damage the permanent teeth underneath the gums. Cavities are painful and need to be dealt with as soon as possible. Teeth are important for chewing and speaking which your baby needs to learn and develop correctly. Baby teeth are also important to make sure permanent teeth come in correctly. If a cavity gets too bad, you may have to take your baby to the hospital, and that's an emotional and financial weight that you don’t need after bringing a wonderful life into this world.
How to prevent baby bottle tooth decay:
- Don’t share saliva with your baby through cleaning pacifiers or feeding spoons with your mouth. You can pass the bad bacteria to your baby.
- After each feeding, clean your baby’s gums with a damp cloth.
- Infants should finish their bottles before going to sleep.
- Don’t dip pacifiers in sugar or honey and then give it to your child.
- Encourage your child to drink from a cup on their first birthday.
- When your baby’s teeth start coming in, clean them with an infant toothbrush and a grain of rice sized amount of fluoride toothpaste until the age of three.
- Brush your child’s teeth with a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste until they’re six.
- Supervise brushing when your child starts to brush their teeth on their own.
- Encourage healthy eating habits.
When your child’s first tooth erupts, schedule your first dentist appointment and make sure that you’re cleaning your baby’s mouth at least twice a day with a damp cloth. When your baby gets old enough, let them get used to brushing their teeth twice a day. Implement these good oral hygiene methods, and your child will continue with them throughout their lives.