What is Baby Bottle Tooth Decay?
Tooth decay in an infant or toddler is often referred to as baby bottle tooth decay. Baby teeth may be temporary, but they are important. Your child needs healthy, strong teeth so they can properly chew their food and speak. Strong teeth also help your child have a healthy-looking smile. Primary teeth are also important because they are placeholders that help guide the adult teeth into their correct positions. Oral care should begin when your child is still an infant so that they can have a healthy smile for years to come.
What Causes Baby Bottle Tooth Decay?
Baby bottle tooth decay can occur when liquids that are sweetened or that contain natural sugars are exposed to the teeth for extended periods of time. Bacteria in the mouth uses this sugar to make acids that attack the teeth. The following can cause baby bottle tooth decay:
• Dipping your infant’s pacifier in sugar, syrup, or honey
• Giving your infant a sugary drink at bedtime or nap time
• Putting your baby to bed with a bottle
• Passing bacteria by putting your baby’s feeding spoon or pacifier in your mouth
• Your child not receiving enough fluoride
How Do I Care for My Child’s Smile?
• Place only formula, milk, or breastmilk in your baby’s bottles. Avoid putting sugary drinks in your baby’s bottle.
• After feeding your baby, wipe their gums with a gauze pad or a clean, damp washcloth
• Once your baby’s teeth start coming in, gently brush them using a child-size toothbrush and a smear of toothpaste
• From the ages of three to six, brush with a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste
• Supervise your child when he or she brushes their teeth until he or she learns not to swallow toothpaste
• Be sure that your child is getting enough fluoride, as this helps prevent cavities. If your water supply does not have fluoride, ask our dentist if you need to use a supplement.
• Start bringing your child to the dentist by his or her first birthday.
Feel free to contact our office today to learn more about preventing baby bottle tooth decay in Portland, Oregon, and to schedule your child’s appointment with Dr. Denise M. Walthour. Our friendly dental team and dentist are here to answer your questions!