Your child’s first set of teeth are just as important as their permanent teeth.
But did you know that using baby bottles incorrectly can lead to tooth decay?
Let’s take a look at baby bottle tooth decay and how you can avoid it.
What is baby bottle tooth decay?
The term “baby bottle tooth decay” refers to cavities and tooth loss caused by long-term exposure to sweet fluids, like milk or fruit juice, given in a baby bottle.
For example, you may think putting your baby to bed with a bottle of milk is a healthy way to soothe them and get them ready for sleep.
But the natural sugars in cows’ milk and the added sugars in formula milk can cling to your baby’s teeth, nourishing bacteria. In turn, these bacteria produce acids that are harmful to teeth.
The same thing can happen if you give your baby fruit juice or soft drinks in a bottle during the day.
How can I spot baby bottle tooth decay?
Baby bottle tooth decay has early signs that you should be aware of:
- White spots on their teeth, a sign that the enamel is starting to break down
- Their tooth going brown
- Signs of discomfort indicating toothache
- Bad breath
- Difficulty chewing
- Disrupted sleep
Later signs of tooth decay include a cavity (hole) appearing and swollen or bleeding gums.
What’s the treatment for baby bottle tooth decay?
The first thing to do if you suspect your baby or child has tooth decay is book a check-up with your dentist.
If they catch signs of baby bottle tooth decay — like white spots on the teeth — early, then they may apply fluoride and offer advice on your baby’s diet and habits to save the affected tooth or teeth.
If there is a cavity, they may fix it with a filling.
Or if the decay has got as far as the pulp inside the tooth, it may need to be removed.
How to prevent baby bottle tooth decay
You can prevent baby bottle tooth decay by following these steps:
- Even before your child’s teeth come through, wipe their gums with a clean damp cloth after feeding to remove plaque and sugar residue
- As soon as your child’s teeth appear, get into the habit of brushing them gently with a soft-bristled brush and a small amount of fluoride toothpaste twice a day for two minutes each time
- Introduce a cup instead of a bottle when your child is around one year old
- Do not put your child to bed with a bottle of milk or juice
- Do not give your child juice or soft drinks in a bottle any time of day
What else can I do to look after my baby’s dental health?
One of the best things you can do for your baby’s dental health is take them to see a dentist around their first birthday.
This means your dentist can check for any problems and offer advice on dental hygiene.
It will also get your child into the habit of seeing the dentist on a regular basis, taking away anxiety about trips to the dentist.
Bring your little one to see us
We love seeing our littlest patients here at Opal Dental, your family dentists for Te Atatu and surrounding areas.
We offer services at whatever stage your family is at, from children’s dentistry to appointments for older family members.
So if you’re concerned about baby bottle tooth decay or just want your little one to have their first visit, book an appointment with your friendly, caring family dentist.