Baby bottle tooth decay occurs from frequent and long-term exposure to liquids containing sugars.
This does not occur overnight. When a routine has been established, at bedtime in the evenings or when a child is given a bottle to drink before falling asleep, rapid tooth decay can occur.
The first tooth of a baby usually appears between six months and twelve months of age. During the first days after a tooth has erupted into the mouth, it is vulnerable to its environment. When the mouth is exposed to liquid sugars from milk, juice, sodas, and teas, bottle decay can become a serious issue.
IS IT POSSIBLE TO PREVENT BABY BOTTLE DECAY?
Early habits are key to success. It may be a good idea to develop a baby’s oral care routine very early on! You should get into the habit of regularly taking care of your baby’s teeth and keep doing so alongside some other dental health practices.
- In the first three months, wipe the baby’s mouth with a sterile cloth every day to remove milk residue and bacteria.
- 3-6 months – Brush baby’s gums at night with silicone toothbrushes to remove biofilms and bacteria.
- From six months and up: use bristle brushes on the first tooth erupting into the mouth, along with silicone brushes on teething gums and budding teeth.
- Children 3 months and older should use a xylitol-based tooth gel to help protect their teeth and gums.
- Never let a child sleep with a bottle containing sweetened liquid.
- Don’t put sweetened syrups on pacifiers to coax a child to sleep.
- You shouldn’t use your saliva on pacifiers, bottle nips, or around a baby’s mouth. A child can catch pathogenic bacteria from an adult, including bacteria that cause dental decay.
- The ideal time to visit the dentist is within six months of the child’s first tooth appearing or before the child reaches the age of one.
BABY BOTTLE DECAY: WHAT SHOULD I DO?
Getting the decay removed and treated by a dentist is the first thing you need to do.
While a baby tooth eventually falls out, that does not make it any less important than the adult teeth. Until the age of 12-13 years, the last baby tooth will fall out, so you need those baby teeth to be healthy and functioning correctly for a long time.
In fact, if a baby tooth is prematurely lost due to decay or trauma, it can have negative impacts on speaking, eating, crowding, and overall oral health.
PLAN NEW ROUTINES
As soon as the decay has been removed and treated, revaluate the habits that led to it and change them.
The task can seem daunting if you have used an evening bottle to induce sleep for an unsettled baby or if your child has become accustomed to using a pacifier for comfort and sleep.
HERE ARE SOME TIPS TO REFORM ROUTINES
- Rather than a bottle right before bedtime, feed the baby first. Then give them a warm bath and a cleaning routine for the mouth. Lastly, rock them in a cool, quiet room with a little bit of white noise.
- Liquids that are high in sugar should be avoided. The only liquid that should be in a bottle is milk or water. Juices are not necessary for children, but if they are occasional treats, they should be served in a regular cup and not from a bottle.
- Keep soda out of children’s hands. It is very damaging to teeth. Besides being acidic and sugary, sodas also contain empty, non-nutritive calories.
- It’s time to put away that pacifier! Take the gradual approach and slowly reduce its availability. Then switch to a more stimulating object, like a teether toy, to divert attention.
Although this might seem like a difficult decision, it is the right one for your child’s oral health now and in the future.
As you establish a new routine and learn what not to do to prevent baby bottle decay, you will still have to adapt as your child grows. Healthy oral habits grow with your child. Here’s some advice.
DIET AND MEAL TIMING
Snacks, snacking, mindless munching! Children, in particular, are at risk of negative dental health consequences, such as cavities and decay. Plus, a lot of kids’ snacks are sticky, gummy, and chewy, which get stuck in their teeth.
A three-meal diet is far healthier than multiple small meals and endless snacking!
Unchecked snacking can lead to tooth decay, especially for children. There are many snacks that are harmful to children’s bodies or their teeth.
Added sugars are everywhere when it comes to snack aisles at the grocery store. Crackers, cereals, dried fruits, granola bars, candy, and other sweets all contain added sugars.
When kids eat unhealthy snacks, they don’t want to eat healthy meals. When kids come to the table a little bit hungry, they are more likely to eat healthier options. They are even more willing to try NEW foods.
TIPS FOR PLANNING MEALS
- Include plenty of vegetables and seasonal fruits in 3 healthy and nutritious meals.
- Keep milk as a treat outside of mealtime for kids and toddlers, other than supplemental milk.
- Limit sugary treats around the house. Consider buying fruit, vegetables, plain yogurt, cheese, nuts, and seeds for snacks.
- Encourage the use of regular drinking cups early on.
So now you have knowledge about what bottle decay is. Also, you’ve got some nuggets of wisdom to help you navigate how to do things to prevent it and how to address it if necessary.
From the moment teeth begin to erupt, they need continual dental care. Once a child’s teeth begin to appear, oral care must be begun immediately if it has not been done before.
The best way to prevent and create a habit is to start oral care early for a newborn. Begin early, train regularly, and adapt as needed.