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What is baby bottle tooth decay and how can you prevent it?

Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

What's in a Smile?

A baby’s first smile is a moment that parents eagerly anticipate, a milestone that’s celebrated, a memory that’s cherished. However, imagine that smile slowly fading away, stolen by an unseen culprit known as Baby Bottle Tooth Decay.

Yes, you read that right. This silent menace can rob your child of their precious pearly whites. The key to preventing this decay lies in awareness and understanding. So, let’s dive deep and discover how to fight back.

Baby Bottle Tooth Decay, also termed Early Childhood Caries, is a condition that afflicts infants and toddlers. It generally targets the upper front teeth, although other teeth can also be victims.

Causes of Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

How does this shadowy villain, Baby Bottle Tooth Decay, strike? What gives it the power to harm our precious little ones? Surprisingly, the answer may lie in something as innocent as a baby bottle.

  • Frequent Exposure to Sugary Liquids: That tiny bottle of juice, formula, milk, or sugar water you feed your baby can turn into the perfect breeding ground for harmful bacteria. These bacteria feast on sugar, producing acids that attack the enamel, eventually leading to tooth decay.
  • Sugary pacifiers: Ever dipped your child’s pacifier in honey or sugar? If yes, it’s time to stop! This habit significantly increases the sugar content in their mouth, inadvertently welcoming tooth decay.
  • Lack of Dental Hygiene: Many parents believe that babies do not need dental care, but this is far from the truth. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends initiating dental care even before the first tooth erupts.

Treating Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

Prevention is always better than cure. But what if Baby Bottle Tooth Decay has already begun its destructive journey? Don’t worry, it’s not the end of the world. There are a number of effective treatment options:

  • Early Stages: Fluoride treatment can help restore enamel if the decay isn’t severe.

  • Advanced Stages: For severe decay, the affected tooth might need extraction. In such scenarios, dentists may suggest space maintainers to ensure proper spacing for permanent teeth.

  • Preventive Dental Care: Regular dental check-ups not only ensure that potential problems are detected early but also provide parents with the right guidance on how to maintain their baby’s oral health.

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Ways to prevent baby bottle tooth decay

  • Don’t send your child to bed with a bottle of juice or milk. The sugar in the liquid will remain on your infant’s teeth for hours. If your baby sleeps with a bottle, gradually wean him or her off by removing it as soon as he or she falls asleep. Dilute the bottle contents with water over two to three weeks. Once that period is over, fill the bottle only with water. If they must go to bed with a drink, fill their bottle with water.
  • Massage and wipe your baby’s gums with a clean damp gauze pad or washcloth after each feeding.
  • When your child’s first tooth comes in, brush it gently with a finger brush and water. You only need to use a smear of toothpaste, there is no need to load the toothbrush.
  • As soon as two teeth touch each other, start flossing their teeth
  • Avoid prolonged pacifier use and never dip a pacifier in honey or syrup.
  • Teach your child how to drink from a cup around 6 months of age. The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends switching to a cup by your child’s first birthday.
  • Book your baby’s first visit to the paediatric dentist after the first tooth emerges and no later than his/her first birthday.
  • Refrain from sharing utensils and other items that come in contact with your child’s teeth to avoid bacterial transmission.

Although your child’s primary teeth are not permanent, they are very important for creating a strong foundation in the mouth. Baby teeth hold space in the jaw for permanent teeth. Teeth that are lost too early due to tooth decay may lead to adult teeth that are damaged, crooked and are difficult to clean.

At Micris Dental Clinic , we have fabulous paediatric dentists who specialise in treating early childhood cavities such as baby bottle tooth decay with care and compassion. Contact us to book your appointment.