What Is Baby Bottle Tooth Decay
Parents of toddlers and infants often have no problem with administering what they believe to be the perfect solution for a fussy baby at bedtime, a warm baby bottle. However, this practice has its downsides, which are often overlooked or unrecognized. One of the possible issues that come along with this perfect bedtime solution is baby bottle tooth decay.
This early childhood dental health issue can negatively impact your child in diverse ways. Learn more about baby bottle tooth decay in this article, including causes and prevention.
What Are the Causes of Baby Bottle Tooth Decay?
As the name suggests, baby bottle tooth decay simply refers to tooth decay in infants and toddlers who are given a bottle for pacifying at bedtime. Also known as early childhood caries or nursing caries this condition is more commonly seen in young children with protracted feeding habits.
Baby bottle tooth decay results from what your infant or toddler eats combined with poor oral care. It is typically an outcome of feeding your baby liquids containing sugars frequently and for an extended period of time, especially around bedtime. These liquids include cow’s milk, fruit juice, and even baby formula.
Sugars in your baby’s diet can linger around on his or her teeth and gums, giving bacteria an opportunity to thrive. These organisms, specifically Streptococcus mutans, convert the sugars into lactic acid, which attacks tooth enamel and eventually results in decay.
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If you have been experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned in this article it may be time to see Dr. Stout. Schedule an appointment with Stout Dentistry. Give us a call today at 704.332.7737.
How to Prevent Baby Bottle Tooth Decay
It is best to start taking steps to prevent early childhood caries as early as possible, preferably before the first tooth erupts. Teeth start forming in the gums during the gestation period and can begin to appear from around four months following delivery.
To keep your child from having baby bottle tooth decay, you should make it a habit to always wipe his or her gums with a soft washcloth or gauze pad and water after feeding. Brush their teeth daily with a soft baby toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste once they appear. Some experts advise, however, that you should only use non-fluoride toothpaste if your baby is not yet able to spit.
Preventing baby bottle tooth decay also demands to make adjustments to feeding habits and preferences. Cut sugar content in diet and avoid giving a bottle at bedtime or fill such with water, if you must offer one. You should aim at gradually eliminating sugary drinks at bedtime by diluting bottle content with water to make it easier to switch to plain water eventually.
In addition, you should avoid giving your child a pacifier dipped in sugar, honey or syrup when it’s time for bed.
Why Should You Be Concerned?
Weaning a baby off a bedtime bottle might sound rather unappealing and difficult to most parents. The inconvenience that could result from such an action can be discouraging, but you will be doing your child a lot of good if you decide to dare.
The flow of saliva in your baby’s mouth reduces when you give him or her a bottle containing sugary drink before bedtime. With reduced saliva flow, sugars are able to remain in the mouth for longer. This can give room to severe tooth decay and infections that may be accompanied with serious discomfort and possibly require tooth extraction to correct.
While extraction can help to get rid of a severely decayed tooth, it doesn’t eliminate other problems that may result from nursing caries. An infected or lost tooth can lead to nutrition problems, crooked teeth, and speech difficulty, among other issues. Baby bottle tooth decay can possibly give rise to problems with facial development as well.
The best approach to tackling baby bottle tooth decay is prevention. Cut down on sugar consumption by your child, particularly before bedtime or a nap, and clean their teeth daily, preferably after each feeding session. You should also endeavor to take your baby to a dental office between six months and a year after birth.
If you have further questions about how conditions that can affect your oral health, give Stout Dentistry, a family dentist in Charlotte, NC, a call today at 704.332.7737. Our friendly team will schedule an appointment to suit your schedule.
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