Infants and young children often have tooth decay in their front teeth, which is called baby bottle tooth decay. It usually occurs when children drink a lot of sweetened fluids or natural sugars (such as milk or fruit juices) from their bottle. Bacteria in the mouth is constantly waiting for such kind of sugars and initiate acids to start damage the teeth. Not only bottles can affect such decay formation, but also pacifiers, which are frequently dipped in syrups and sugars. It is extremely harmful to give a child sugary drink or sweetened pacifier at nighttime or nap, because saliva flow slows down, creating the perfect conditions for bacteria to multiply and cause tooth decay.
Even though baby bottle tooth decay typically appears on the upper front teeth, it can also have a negative effect on other teeth. You can recognize it from white, dark or brown spots on the teeth. Moreover, the teeth can become more sensitive than usual.
Importance of keeping primary teeth as long as possible
Many parents don’t pay attention to taking care of primary teeth because they know that they are going to fall out soon. But it is very important to save healthy teeth and maintain good oral hygiene, because they are necessary for speaking, chewing and smiling. Moreover, primary teeth save space for permanent teeth and prevent further orthodontic problems and irregular bites. If tooth decay will be left untreated, it may result in pain, infection or even tooth extraction. Tooth loss can make a huge influence on speech problems and poor eating habits. What is more, it can damage permanent teeth and cause a crooked smile.
You can prevent baby bottle tooth decay by maintaining good oral hygiene as early as possible, by following few simple steps:
After each feeding wipe baby’s gums with a clean washcloth or gauze pad.
Start brushing your child’s teeth as soon as the first tooth erupts. You can do that without toothpaste, or use fluoride-free toothpaste.
You need to clean and massage gums even though there are no teeth yet.
Floss the teeth.
Make sure your child gets enough fluoride. What you need to know, is that fluoride decreases the possibility to get cavities and strengthens the tooth. Ask your doctor if your child needs to take any supplementary fluoride. What is more, check whether your water is fluoridated or not.
Make regular visits to the dental office. The first visit should be arranged around your child’s first birthday.
Don’t fill bottles with sugary drinks. They have no nutritional value and only has a negative effect on your child’s overall health. Try to give your child water, milk or special electrolyte-containing drinks.
Never let your child fall asleep with the bottle, especially when there is not water, but other solutions.
Don’t let your child use sweetened pacifiers.
Reduce the sugar intake from your child’s diet.
Remember, it’s never too late to break bad habits. All you need to do is to gradually reduce the sugars intake and after 3 weeks cut out the sweetened drinks completely, leaving your child only with pure water. Do that for your child’s overall health and in that way prevent baby bottle tooth decay. Always remember that healthy primary teeth will lead you to healthy permanent teeth.