Baby bottle tooth decay or early childhood caries are common terms used when talking about tooth decay among children under the age of five. The principal cause for tooth decay in infants is the exposure of their teeth to drinks that contain sugar, usually through extended nursing or milk (including breast milk), formula or juice at bed time. Oral health probemsoccur when acid formed by bacteria damages the tooth enamel, causing demineralization and cavity.
Parents can also pass bacteria to babies through saliva. Bacteria may be spread by sharing saliva on spoons or cups, testing food before feeding them to babies and cleaning off a pacifier in the parent’s mouth.
Most dentists recommend an initial visit before the child’s first birthday to make sure teeth and gums are cared for properly.
Tooth decay can begin as soon as a baby’s teeth come in, usually by age six months. If the decay is not treated, it can spread and destroy the baby teeth. Children who have decay in their baby teeth are more likely to have decay in their adult teeth. If baby teeth are lost too early, your child may develop poor eating habits, speech problems, crooked teeth, and damaged adult teeth.
The first signs of tooth decay are the white spots at the gum line on the upper front teeth. Tooth decay causes: mouthand gums discomfort, damage to the permanent teeth underneath the gums, loss of the space for the permanent teeth to come in, infections that can affect the child’s general health.
Tips to prevent baby bottle tooth decay
- Wipe the baby’s gum with a clean, wet gauze pad after each feeding, before sleep.
- Try not to share saliva with the baby through the use of feeding spoons or licking pacifiers.
- Do not let your child fall asleep while nursing from either the breast or bottle.
- When your child’s teeth come in, brush them twice a day, for two minutes, with a fluoride toothpaste.Use a soft bristled-toothbrush, speciallyfor kids. Until the child is three years old, use no more than a smear amount of fluoride toothpaste. From 3 to 6 years old, use no more than a pea-sized amount of toothpaste. The American Dental Association recommends that you brush your child’s teeth until he is 6 years old. After that, supervise them to be sure that they correctly brush their teeth and that they spit out toothpaste and not swallow it.
- Take good care of your own oral health.
- Make sure your child is getting enough fluoride. If the water you use does not contain fluoride, ask your dentist if you need a supplement for your child.
- Teach your child healthy eating habits.
- Make an appointment to a dentist before the age of 1.
To conclude, the best approach to the baby bottle tooth decay is prevention. With a good home oral care and regular appointments to your dentist, your children will have healthy permanent teeth. In case you need advice from a professional, do not hesitate to call Dr. Arhiri for an appointment. We are glad to help both you and your child.