This type of decay is caused by frequent and long term exposure of your child’s teeth to liquids that contain sugar. This can include; milk, formula, sodas, fruit juice and other drinks that have been sweetened. The sugars contained in the liquids feed the bacteria in plaque when it is being consumed. The acid produced by the bacteria attack the teeth and gums, and that is how decay begins.
If you give your child a sugary beverage during nap time, or sleep time it is harmful for their teeth. During sleep the flow saliva is decreased allowing the sugar to linger on their teeth for a longer period of time. If this is left untreated, it can result in decay that can be painful or bring on an infection. If teeth are infected, or lost early because of baby bottle tooth decay it can lead to poor eating habits, crooked teeth, speech problems or damaged adult teeth. Keeping baby teeth healthy will result in healthy permanent teeth.
How to help prevent baby bottle tooth decay;
Do not let your child fall asleep with a bottle that contains any sugary liquids as those mentioned above. Massage and clean your child’s gums to aid with teething and promote healthy gums and teeth. After every feeding, use a moistened gauze patch or washcloth, wrap it around your index finger and gently massage the gums.
When brushing your child’s teeth use a very soft toothbrush and water. Consult with your dentist if you are planning on using toothpaste before 2 years of age.
Some changes you can incorporate for better oral health;
- Slowly dilute the contents of the baby bottle by adding water of a period of three weeks
- Eventually replace all liquids with water in the baby bottle
- Decrease sugar consumption
As soon as your child can drink from a cup, wean them off the bottle but the sucking motion of drinking from a bottle aids in development of facial and tongue muscles so do not take it away from them completely.