In honor of National Children’s Dental Health Month (February) we asked our hygienist, Yee Fong, to “Talk about Baby Bottle Tooth decay. How to prevent it. Why it’s dangerous.”
Baby bottle tooth decay often occurs on the upper front teeth, however other teeth can be affected as well. Prolonged exposure of the baby’s teeth to liquids that contain sugar, like fruit juice and sweetened water, milk, breast milk and formula can and will cause decay. Decay is more likely to occur when a parent allows their child to sleep with the bottle in their mouth or when a bottle is used (instead of a pacifier) for a fussy baby. The sugary liquids pool around the teeth while a child is asleep and bacteria use these sugars as food and the bacteria in turn produce acids that attack the teeth.
There are several ways to prevent baby bottle tooth decay, but the most obvious is NOT to allow your child to sleep with a bottle and to make sure after each feeding to wipe the baby’s gums with a clean damp wash cloth. Do not dip a pacifier into to juice, honey or sugar, as this can cause decay. When your child has his/hers first tooth, begin using a wash cloth AND a pediatric toothbrush and toothpaste (with fluoride) to help reduce decay. Encourage your child to drink from a cup by their first birthday, and reduce or prolonged use of a sippy cup.
Not only does sleeping with a bottle cause decay, but it’s also a choking hazard! Whether your child sleeps on his/her stomach, back or side if any food or liquid is present in the mouth while they’re asleep they can potentially choke and death may occur.
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