Baby bottle tooth decay can occur once your child grows their first set of teeth. Tooth decay can appear because mother’s milk contains sugar, as well as formula and cow’s milk, all of which your baby is consuming. The sugars found in these liquids sit on your baby’s teeth and cause them to decay. Babies are more at risk during the night, especially because they would usually go to sleep with a bottle, and saliva flow decreases as we sleep. Sometimes, infants are given baby pacifiers with sweet sugar or syrup on them to help them stop crying and to go to sleep. This is also harmful to their teeth.
Baby bottle tooth decay typically affects the upper front teeth, but can spread to other areas of the mouth as well.
Even though baby teeth are technically placeholders for adult teeth, they are still quite important and should be taken care of. They are necessary for your baby’s speech, smiling and chewing. If left untreated, it can cause lots of pain, and can result in infection. Teeth that are severely decaying may need to be removed.
If your child needs to have many baby teeth removed, this could have lasting, negative effects on their speech development. This can also result in the baby developing poor eating habits because eating may become too painful or too troublesome. Additionally, when your baby does grow in their adult teeth, they can be crooked or damaged.
Baby Bottle Tooth Decay Preventative Measures
Once you notice your child growing in their first baby teeth, you should check on them at least once a month. Do this by lifting up your child’s lips and checking the teeth for any dull white spots or lines on the teeth. These may be on the teeth closer to the gums. Dark, yellowing or browning teeth are also a sign of tooth decay.
If you do notice any of these signs, it’s best to make an appointment with your dentist right away. If not dealt with properly and in a timely manner, there can be consequences such as infection and pain.
Here are some other things you can do in order to keep baby bottle tooth decay at bay:
- Use a clean damp washcloth or piece of gauze to wipe baby’s teeth after each time they feed.
- Give the baby a bottle of plain water once in a while to flush any debris and residual sugar remaining in their mouth.
- You may begin brushing your child’s teeth without toothpaste, and you can also start flossing once all the baby teeth are in.
- Clean and massage your baby’s gums.
- Be sure to regularly schedule dental visits once your child turns one. Dentists can also coat your baby’s teeth with a special sealant which is designed to prevent tooth decay in children.