When tooth decay occurs in infants, it is referred to as “baby bottle tooth decay” or “early childhood caries”. And this tooth decay is a more serious threat than it might at first seem.
As soon as your baby’s first tooth comes in, it is prone to cavities. And while these teeth are “temporary”, their condition can have very long term effects on dental health.
Temporary teeth create the space in the jaw for the adult teeth to come in correctly, if a baby tooth is lost, other teeth can slide into the empty space, making it difficult for permanent teeth to come in properly.
Children also need strong and healthy teeth to chew food correctly and to help with speech development. For these reasons, it is vital you keep your infants baby-teeth in tip-top shape, and EK Dental Surgery is here to tell you about the threat of Baby Bottle Decay, and what you can do about it.
What Is Baby Bottle Tooth Decay?
Milk, juices, formula – almost everything young children drink contains sugar. When a child sucks on a bottle, particularly over time, the sugar remains in the mouth. Sugar in the mouth of a child is exactly the same problem as sugar in the mouth of an adult.
It leads to decay and cavities. Severe cases can even destroy teeth, impairing a child’s ability to chew or talk clearly. Later in life it can lead to hours in the dental chair or years of braces. Children who lose their baby teeth early are more likely to grow up with crowded or misaligned permanent teeth.
Causes Of Baby Bottle Tooth Decay
Dental decay causing bacteria settle in the mouth at about 6-7 months, when the first teeth appear. When these bacteria consume sugar they create acids that dissolve the teeth and cause an infection in the tooth. Most baby bottle formula or infant milk formula is rich in sugars. Extended exposure to sugar is the number one cause of baby bottle tooth decay.
Baby bottle feeding of milk, juice, or sugary drinks can cause baby bottle tooth decay due to flowing improper bottle feeding practices such as:
- Frequent milk bottle feeding at night
- Bottle feeding with juice at night
- Not brushing a baby’s teeth at least twice a day
- Prolonged bottle feeding after 12 to 18 months
Preventing Baby Bottle Decay
The good news is that you can help your infant avoid baby bottle tooth decay. Here are some suggestions to protect your infant.
Don’t send your child to bed with a bottle of anything but water, no matter how soothing your infant finds it. This is even true of milk, which many parents think of as very healthy.
Unfortunately, milk contains a high amount of sugar, and if your child goes to bed with a bottle their exposure time to sugar is dramatically increased, and so are their chances of suffering from a cavity. This is even more true of juice, which is a popular drink for children.
any leading juice brands are overflowing with sugar, despite being labeled as 100% juice. And flavoured juices are often even worse. To avoid this problem, some parents dilute juice with water. But even in a diluted form, juice has a high sugar content.
If your child must go to bed with a drink, simply fill the bottle with water.
Clean an infant’s gums each time it eats. Gently wipe the gums with a clean wash cloth that’s been dampened with cool water.
The moment your child’s first tooth comes in, it’s time to begin brushing. Brush with a children’s toothbrush that has very soft bristles. Only use a dab of toothpaste, about the size of a grain of rice, and don’t use toothpaste with fluoride unless your dentist recommends it.
Control intake of sugar. Extended exposure to sugar, solid or liquid, can lead to cavities. By controlling the amount of sugar your child consumes, and substituting it with healthier foods like fruits and vegetables, you can stay ahead of this threat.
Treating Existing Bottle Rot
If your baby already has signs of tooth decay, come see EK Dental Surgery! We’ll assess the extent of the decay, deal with any cavities, and work with you to prevent future damage to your children’s teeth.
Early visits to the dental office are also helpful in acclimatizing children to an oral health routine and starting them off on the road to lifelong dental health!
EK Dental Surgery, Your Trusted Oral Health Partner
EK Dental Surgery offers a wide range of preventative and restorative treatments for children, seniors, and everyone in between! At EK Dental Surgery we help patients of all ages get that movie-star smile and we also help protect the oral health of your entire family.
EK Dental Surgery is conveniently located on Springvale Road in Glen Waverley.
Child Dental Benefits Schedule
Bulk Bill for children who are eligible for MEDICARE CHILD DENTAL BENEFIT SCHEDULE
Up to $1000 worth of dental treatments over two years
Learn more about Child Dental Benefits Schedule
Call us on (03) 9887 8787 or visit us at 230 Springvale Road in Glen Waverley.