Do you frequently give your baby a bottle before putting them down for a nap? Don’t worry, you’re not alone if you say “yes.” Many parents find that their babies are calmer and more willing to doze off if provided a warm bottle of milk or juice. Unfortunately, this seemingly innocent habit can lead to cavity formations over time. So, what can do you to prevent it from happening to your child? How can you appease your little one without the bottle? A pediatric dentist shares helpful tips that will keep your baby’s growing smile healthy and free of decay.
What is Baby Bottle Tooth Decay?
When a baby’s teeth are exposed to sugar-filled beverages for prolonged periods of time, they become more susceptible to dental caries (cavities). This most likely happens when you put your child to bed with a bottle full of formula or juice. It’s also possible that this can happen among babies who “require” a bottle to soothe themselves when fussy.
Because the teeth in the front are usually the only ones present (and more closely exposed), these teeth will most likely experience the breakdown of tooth enamel. When sugar is present in the oral cavity, bacteria begin to feed, causing plaque to form. Becoming sticky when mixed with your baby’s saliva, it will adhere to their tooth enamel and begin to break down the outer layer. Once it burrows far enough into the tooth, a hole will form known as a cavity.
Why is This Worrisome if These Teeth Fall Out Anyway?
Some parents may not find it to be too worrisome if this happens. However, if cavities begin to develop in your infant, toddler, or child, it is likely they will go on to experience them as a teenager and adult. If baby teeth become decayed or are lost too early, it can negatively impact the way their permanent teeth erupt. This can result in poor eating habits, speech difficulties, and misaligned teeth.
How to Prevent Baby Bottle Tooth Decay
One of the most immediate things you can do to prevent baby bottle tooth decay is to simply substitute your baby’s juice, milk, or formula with water. This will keep them hydrated and their salivary glands working properly, and it will not cause cavities. Other ways to curb this common dental problem include:
- Limiting your child’s access to acidic foods, and avoiding juice as a suitable beverage to consume right now
- Inquiring about fluoride treatments during your child’s next dental appointment
- Keeping your little one’s six-month dental checkups and cleanings with their pediatric dentist in Katy
- Establish a nutrient-rich diet for your baby
- Encourage your child to begin using a cup instead of a bottle by their first birthday
- Use a smear of fluoride toothpaste (i.e. size of a grain of rice) when brushing your baby’s teeth. By the time they reach the age of 3, you can begin to use a pea-sized amount.
By following these simple steps, you can minimize your baby’s risk for tooth decay and enjoy watching their smile grow healthier in the years to come.
About the Author
As a board-certified pediatric dentist in Katy, TX, Dr. Adeel Khan is all-too-familiar with the common problems that can develop in a baby’s smile. Even among young, freshly developed teeth, cavities are a concern, which is why he and his team are ready to provide parents with the knowledge they need to combat certain issues such as baby bottle tooth decay. If you would like to learn more about the effects of formula and juice on your baby’s teeth, visit our website or call (832) 789-8348.