Infants generally can start teething as early as six months of age, which is why dental care and proper hygiene is important, even at this young age. Though your children’s baby teeth are temporary, they are still susceptible to cavities that need to last. Conditioners such as early cavities, or baby bottle tooth decay, can harmfully impact their development. These first teeth, even more importantly, help ensure that the adult teeth come in correctly. Today, we at Smile Reef would like to elaborate on baby bottle tooth decay.
What Causes Baby Bottle Tooth Decay?
This is caused by the frequent and long-term exposure of liquids containing sugars to a child’s teeth. Though other teeth can be affected, it typically occurs on the upper front teeth. The most common culprits that contribute to baby bottle tooth decay include fruit juice, sodas, formula, and milk along with other sweetened drinks. The bacteria that causes plaque is fed due to these liquids pooling around the infant’s teeth and gums. Acid also attacks the teeth and gums every time a child consumes a sugary beverage. Tooth decay begins after numerous attacks. This condition can also occur with infants that are breast-fed who have prolonged feeding habits and children who frequently have their pacifier dipped in syrup, sugar, or honey. The risk increases significantly when infants sleep with sweet beverages left in their mouth.
Effects of Baby Bottle Tooth Decay
If this condition is left untreated, it will lead to infection and pain. Additionally, if a tooth is severely decayed, it will require an extraction. Your child may develop poor eating habits, crooked/damaged adult teeth, or speech problems if their teeth are infected or lost too early.
Baby Bottle Tooth Decay Treatment
Treatment for baby bottle tooth decay is dictated by the child’s age, severity of the tooth decay, and other circumstances. If you catch the condition early enough, you can apply preventative techniques, and your child’s dentist will discuss treatment options. Early symptoms of baby bottle tooth decay are often shown with white spots on the baby’s teeth. Fluoride treatment or placing fluoride varnish at this stage can be used to re-mineralize all of the teeth. This process rebuilds enamel, an in a sense, reverses the decay at this earliest stage. Fluoride supplements might also be recommended. Additionally, you will need to change your baby’s diet and eating habits. Later stages of baby bottle tooth decay may indicate that the fluoride treatments will no longer be sufficient. Brown or black spots on the teeth, fever, swelling or irritability, which could indicate infection, bleeding or swollen gums, and bad breath are symptoms of a more severe case of baby bottle tooth decay. See a dentist as soon as possible if your child has any of these symptoms.
Baby Bottle Tooth Decay Prevention
Implementing good oral hygiene at an early age will help stave off baby bottle tooth decay.
1) After each feeding, wipe the baby’s gums with a clean gauze pad or washcloth.
2) When the first tooth comes in, start brushing their teeth with a soft bristled tooth brush without any toothpaste, or a fluoride-free one. Be sure the gums are cleaned and massaged where there are not any teeth.
3) Floss when baby’s teeth come in.
4) Ensure your baby is getting enough fluoride; if it is not in the water supply, ask your doctor about supplements.
5) Schedule a dental visit around their first birthday for a cleaning and checkup.
6) Limit sugary beverage exposure. Bottles should only be filled with water, milk, formula or electrolyte- enriched beverages for diarrhea treatment. Don’t expose young ones to soda.
7) Don’t let your baby fall asleep with a bottle in their mouth.
8) Don’t dip the pacifier in sweet coatings and limit sugary snacks.