Don’t Drink in the Bed! - All About Baby Bottle Tooth Decay
Baby bottle tooth decay occurs when bacteria on the teeth, created from sugars in foods and beverages in the diet, form an acid that damages the tooth enamel. This acidic damage can lead to cavities and even infection and pain in your child.
Baby bottle tooth decay, or bottle mouth, gets it name from the prevalence of young children that suffer from cavities and decay primarily on their front top teeth, usually caused by going to sleep with a bottle or constantly drinking sugary beverages from a bottle. As the infant or child sucks the milk, juice, soda, etc., from a bottle, sugar sits on the front teeth, and bacteria use this sugar to form the acid that attacks the enamel.
If detected early, your pediatric dentist can apply a fluoride varnish to the affected areas to stop further damage. However, once the enamel has been severely damaged, and brown spots and cavities are visible, more restorative treatment will be needed.
Contrary to what many believe, baby teeth do matter. You don’t want your infant or young child to lose their teeth prematurely due to cavities. Baby teeth serve as placeholders for permanent teeth. When lost prematurely, the spacing of the permanent teeth can be affected, possibly leading to misaligned permanent teeth and the need for more extensive orthodontic treatment. Young children that lose their baby teeth prematurely may also have a more difficult time eating a nutritious diet – and we all know that’s hard enough to do with all their teeth!
Tips for Preventing Baby Bottle Tooth Decay:
- Never put your child to bed with a bottle or sippy cup containing anything but water. (Even milk, formula and breast milk contain sugar that will cause the bacteria to create the acid that sits on the teeth and erodes the enamel.)
- Introduce a sippy cup to your child by 6 months old and try to ditch the bottle by 1 year old.
- Limit acidic foods in your child’s diet, especially juices.
- Brush your child’s teeth before bed or wipe your infant’s gums. Removing any sugar from the surface will help prevent bacteria from eating away at the enamel all night.
*Once you have brushed your child’s teeth before bed, only offer water to drink. If your child has a snack or drinks anything other than water, be sure to brush again!
As always, Anderson Pediatric Dentistry is here to help you with any questions you may have! Our dedicated team can help you come up with strategies for eliminating bedtime bottles and for preventing and treating tooth decay in your young children.