Do you know that if your baby prolongs the use of his feeding bottle he may be susceptible to tooth decay? Even though baby teeth are temporary, they require strong, healthy baby teeth to chew their food, talk clearly and have an attractive smile. The healthy baby teeth also ensure the correct growth and placement of the adult teeth. Continue reading to know more about baby bottle tooth decay and effective measures to prevent it.
What Is Baby Bottle Tooth Decay?
Your baby’s teeth may be temporary but they play an important role. If they are not take care of properly, they can be infected. Baby bottle tooth decay is a common dental problem that affects babies and toddlers. It is caused if your baby uses his feeding bottle to have liquids like milk, formula milk, fruit juice, soda and other drinks that contain sugar. As your baby cannot brush properly, the sugars in these liquids stick around his teeth and gums, leading to bacteria growth thus causing cavity. Every time a child drinks a liquid with sugar content, his teeth and gums are attacked by acid and this continuous attack leads to tooth decay. Baby bottle tooth decay is seen in babies who are breast-fed for long or with babies who use pacifiers that are dipped in honey or sugar syrup to make them more tempting. So when the baby is sleeping, these sugary liquid which are left in baby’s mouth increases the chance of cavities.
Usually the upper front teeth are most affected with baby bottle tooth decay but it may occur in other teeth also.
Who Are At The Risk Of Baby Bottle Tooth Decay?
Infants who are given feeding bottle in bed or babies who are breastfed to sleep or older toddlers that are allowed to carry around a bottle or a sipper cup throughout the day with sugary liquids in it are at a higher risk of baby bottle tooth decay.
Causes Of Baby Bottle Tooth Decay
There are various reasons that can cause Baby bottle tooth decay. The main three reasons are:
- Frequent exposure to sugary liquids: The most common cause of BBTD is the prolonged and constant exposure of the baby teeth to sugary liquids. It is a very common practice to put the baby to sleep with bottle of formula or breastfeed your infant to sleep. On a lot of occasion, a mother in order to calm a cranky and fussy baby will hand him a bottle filled with his favorite drink as a pacifier. Both these practices can cause tooth decay in babies. Giving your baby a sugary drink at nighttime is a wrong practice because during sleep, the saliva’s flow decreases and allows the sugary liquid to remain on the child’s teeth for a longer time and it can cause pain and infection
- Pass from the caregiver: Another cause for tooth decay is the bacteria that is transferred from the saliva of the mother or the babysitter to the baby’s mouth through the feeding spoon or pacifier
- Inadequate fluoride: Inadequate fluoride received by the baby is another reason that makes them prone to BBTD
Signs Of Baby Bottle Tooth Decay In Babies
At the beginning, the decay in tooth may appear as white spots near the gum line on the upper front teeth. At first, these spots are hard to see even for the baby’s dentist without proper equipment. Bay bottle tooth decay needs to be carefully examined and treat to stop it from spreading and causing further damage.
12 Tips To Prevent Baby Bottle Tooth Decay
If your baby’s teeth are severely decayed they may need to be removed. If your baby loses his teeth or if they are infected due to baby bottle tooth decay, chances are that your baby will have poor eating habits, have problems with his speech or may get damaged and crooked adult teeth. Don’t push the panic button. With a few simple steps you can prevent baby bottle tooth decay in your baby:
- Avoid crib bottle: Never put your baby to sleep with a bottle. Going to bed with a bottle will expose the baby’s teeth to sugar as well as put the baby at risk for ear infections and increased chances of choking. Try not to make it a habit for the baby to sleep with a bottle in his mouth. Give your baby his night feed half an hour before his bedtime to prevent him from falling asleep while drinking. Try to give him milk in a cup before he is too sleepy to prevent tooth decay
- Switch to cup: Introduce the baby to a cup by 6 months of age. Introducing a sippy cup is the ideal approach to weaning your baby off bottle. After a year eventually switch him to a glass. Keep in mind that it may take a little time for your baby to adjust to this change, but keep trying and do not give up
- Take good care of baby’s teeth: Regular dental care or gum care is essential when it comes to the baby’s teeth. Irrespective of the baby being breastfed or bottle-fed, it is significant to take good care of the baby’s teeth. Use a clean gauze or cloth to gently wipe your baby’s gums and teeth after every feed. When you see the first teeth sprouting out, start softly brushing the teeth using a delicate baby toothbrush and without using toothpaste
- Take an appointment with a dentist before 1st birthday: Before the baby turns one, take him to a pediatric dental specialist for preventative dental checkup. He may recommend using a sealant coating to prevent tooth decay
- Check for toothpaste: Once your baby has more teeth, ask his doctor when it is a good time to start brushing your baby’s teeth with a toothpaste. Use toothpaste that contains fluoride as it will help prevent a cavity
- Limit the amount of sugar: Sugar has no nutritional value. It can only cause health issues. So, never add sugar to the milk, juices, smoothies etc. and whenever you have to add sugar, limit its quantity
- Dilute the juice: Never give concentrated juices to your baby. Even if they juices are packaged or fresh dilute them with water to reduce the sugar content
- Serve juice only during meals: Give the baby juice only during mealtime. It is better than letting him have it throughout the day. After meals, you will definitely clean the baby’s mouth and he will drink water. Therefore, there will be less chance for the sugary coating in the teeth and thereby the chance of tooth decay will be reduced
- Minimize the use of a baby bottle: It is very important to minimize the use of a baby bottle. Fill the bottle with water, as it will not cause any harm sipping water from the bottle. Give him his favorite drinks in colorful cups and glasses only to add some fun. Once the baby gets the cue that the bottle provides him only boring water, he himself will gradually switch to the cup
- Be careful while selecting pacifier: Avoid using pacifiers and even if you have to use it don’t dip it in sugary liquids like honey to make it more tempting. Use clean and dry pacifiers only
- Stick on to natural food and drinks: Give your child boiled or raw fruits and vegetables. Let him enjoy the natural flavors rather than loading it with artificial sweetener
- Avoid fizzy drinks: Avoid giving child soft drinks which have zero nutritional value and are loaded with artificial color and sweetener
Remember, healthy baby teeth will ultimately result in healthy permanent teeth. So encourage healthy oral habits in your baby.