Understanding Baby Bottle Decay
Bacteria grow and thrive on sugar and that is the main culprit behind tooth decay. Babies who spend time with sugary liquids in their bottles may be more prone to cavities in their baby teeth. Some parents are not concerned about this issue but cavities at a young age can cause lasting problems. Read on for what parents need to know about baby bottle tooth decay.
Why Worry Now?
Everyone knows that baby teeth are not permanent but that doesn't mean they should be left to decay. The way your baby's adult teeth emerge can be affected if the baby teeth have cavities. Here are just a few issues that might come from unhealthy baby teeth:
- Eating habits – The desire for sugar is learned and the more you provide your baby the more they will crave it. Feeding your baby a lot of sugary liquids (and foods) creates what might be a life-long sugar addiction. Sugar promotes the growth of bacteria and that causes decay and gum infections.
- Adult teeth displacement – Decayed baby teeth can translate to misshapen adult teeth that will require expensive orthodontics.
- Speech is developing along with your baby's teeth and decay can create speed difficulties.
Protect Your Baby Against Baby Bottle Decay
- As your baby's first teeth emerge, begin keeping them clean by wiping them off with a soft cloth after feedings and before bed. Keep your baby's gums clean too.
- Use baby bottles for water, milk, or formula only. Never feed sugary juices or soft drinks.
- When teeth have emerged, begin brushing your baby's teeth with a soft brush with only water. If you wish to use toothpaste, look for those specially formulated for babies.
- If your child uses a bottle to fall asleep, make sure it's filled only with water.
- When more than one or two teeth together have emerged, begin using floss.
- Avoid dipping a pacifier into sugary liquids.
- If your local water supply doesn't have fluoride, speak to your dentist about supplements.
- When you want your baby to have juice, make it half juice and half water and feed them using a sippy cup instead of a bottle. Don't let them take the sippy cut to bed, however.
- Get your baby used to the dentist by visiting once teeth begin emerging.
- If you have been giving your child sugary drinks, you can take action to gradually reduce the sugar by diluting the drink with water a bit at a time. Your child may never notice the difference. The goal is to completely substitute water or milk only in the bottle.
To get more information on the importance of strong and healthy baby teeth, speak to your family dentist.