Did you know that according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, tooth decay is the number one most common chronic childhood disease? There are a variety of factors that make children more prone to cavities than adults, including thin enamel, lacking dental hygiene habits, and the sugary snacks they eat. However, you may be increasing your child’s risk of cavities without realizing it! Here’s what you need to know about a common issue called baby bottle tooth decay and what you can do to protect your little one’s smile!
What Is Baby Bottle Tooth Decay?
Do you let your son or daughter sip on their baby bottle all day long without a second thought? The truth is, if their bottle is filled with anything besides water, they could be developing tooth decay. Most popular children’s drinks contain high amounts of sugar. This even includes “healthy” beverages like milk, juice, and formula. Every time your little one consumes one of these drinks, their teeth are attacked by the acids produced by their oral bacteria. When you put your baby to sleep with their bottle, these sugary drinks pool around their teeth and gums and dramatically increase their risk of cavities.
Why Are Baby Teeth Important?
It’s a common misconception that cavities in baby teeth don’t need to be treated or taken seriously. After all, they’re not designed to be a permanent fixture in your little one’s smile. However, maintaining healthy baby teeth plays a key role in proper oral development. Leaving a cavity untreated can cause the baby tooth to fall out prematurely, which can lead to:
- Trouble speaking clearly and eating comfortably.
- Bad oral hygiene habits that follow them into adolescence and adulthood.
- Lower self-esteem and confidence.
- Trapped or misaligned permanent teeth that require orthodontic treatment.
- Serious dental infections that can spread throughout the mouth and body.
How Can Baby Bottle Tooth Decay Be Prevented?
Thankfully, a little prevention can go a long way in protecting your son’s or daughter’s precious smile:
- Don’t put your child to bed with their bottle.
- After each feeding, wipe their gums with a clean, damp gauze or washcloth.
- As soon as their teeth come in, start to brush them daily with a child’s toothbrush and a smear of fluoridated toothpaste about as big as a grain of rice.
- Avoid putting very sugary drinks in their bottle, such as sugar water, soft drinks, or juice.
- Encourage them to drink from a cup by their first birthday.
Remember, your child should get their first dental checkup by the time they turn one. Biannual exams and cleanings allow their dentist to spot and stop the earliest signs of tooth decay and keep your little one’s smile healthy!
About the Author
Dr. Tera Pollock has nearly two decades of experience practicing pediatric dentistry. She is passionate about providing the specialized care and attention growing smiles need to stay healthy. With a combination of patient education and services like sealants and fluoride treatments, she aims to help your child develop great oral health habits and keep cavities from developing in the first place. If you have concerns about baby bottle tooth decay, feel free to reach out to her via her website or at (972) 475-0301.