Baby Bottle Tooth Decay
Even though your child’s primary teeth are temporary, they are exceptionally important and are easily susceptible to cavities. Tooth decay in infants and toddlers are called Baby Bottle Tooth Decay or Early Childhood Caries.
Although primary teeth are replaced with permanent teeth in a few years, they do help in doing a few important tasks in the meantime. Primary teeth
- help in enunciation and speech production
- maintain space in baby’s jaw for permanent teeth
- help the child chew their food properly
- help the tongue from taking the wrong posture in the mouth
When a baby loses his/her teeth to decay or trauma, adjacent teeth slip to fill in the gap. This causes a dire impact on permanent teeth, the baby will require many years of orthodontic treatment. The baby may have a poor aesthetic result.
Understanding Baby Bottle Tooth Decay and its Causes
Baby Bottle Tooth Decay causes cavities in children under age 5. As the name suggests, the child gets this condition from the regular practice of putting the baby to bed with bottles to pacify them from fussing. When the child falls asleep, a tiny amount of milk remains in the mouth. This leads to the formation of acids that attack the child’s vulnerable tooth enamel and cause cavities. Baby bottle tooth decay affects any or all the teeth, but the front teeth in the upper jaw are the most common region.
When baby bottle tooth decay is too severe, it is essential to contact us at once. Dr. Joseph Cheng, DDS., located in Rancho Cucamonga, CA, is a well-trained dentist who will plan a safe extraction of your baby’s damaged teeth and fix a space maintainer to prevent the remaining teeth from misaligning.
Dr. Cheng recommends regular dental checkups and following a good oral care routine at home to completely prevent baby bottle tooth decay.
The bacteria which produces acids cause tooth decay. Below are the causes of baby bottle tooth decay:
a) The bacteria can be easily transmitted from the mother or father through saliva. When you share your spoon with your baby or cleanse the spoon/pacifier with your mouth, your bacteria enters your baby’s mouth.
b) The primary cause is however frequently exposing your baby to sweetened liquids like juices, sweetened water, breast milk, and baby formula. When sweetened liquids are given to babies as nap time or nighttime drink, some liquid remains in the mouth. Oral bacteria come in contact with sugar coated on or around the teeth, release harmful acids and these acids attack the baby’s tooth enamel.
c) It is necessary that your infant/toddler receive an adequate amount of fluoride every day to eliminate increased risk for tooth decay.
Prevention of Baby Bottle Tooth Decay at Home
a) Try not to share your saliva with your baby by using a common spoon or licking their pacifiers. You can use a clean spoon or thoroughly rinse the pacifier for child’s use
b) It is important to wipe their gums with a clean, damp washcloth or gauze pad
c) Brush your baby’s primary teeth with the right toothbrush and pea-sized amount of ADA-approved toothpaste which contains fluoride from the ages 3-6. You must make sure that the child spits out the excess toothpaste and thoroughly rinses her/her mouth. This is because excess consumption of fluoride present in the toothpaste could lead to a condition called fluorosis.
d) Do place sugary drinks in baby bottles. Instead, fill the baby bottles with breast milk, water or formula. Once the child is one year old, encourage the practice of using regular cups
e) Infants should be given their nap time and nighttime drink before they go to bed
f) Review your child’s dietary habits, eliminate sugary snacks and include a nutritious, healthy diet
g) Do not coat their pacifiers with sugar or honey
h) Contact us to review your child’s fluoride levels
i) Clean your child’s teeth until they reach the age of 6 or 7 as they might find it difficult to reach certain portions in their mouth (molars) without your help