Those little teeth can be prone to “baby bottle tooth decay,” which is a severe tooth decay that can result when a baby receives too many sugary substances – fruit juice, sugar water, and even formula – via the bottle. Through this constant drinking, the teeth are unable to produce enough saliva to naturally rinse them of the sugar. This is especially true when a baby drinks these substances after being put down to sleep for the night or for a nap.
This is because during naps or at bedtime, liquids tend to pool around the teeth. At the same time, babies produce less saliva when they sleep, inhibiting the saliva’s ability to rinse the teeth. Less saliva and more sugar in the mouth can promote tooth decay. So if you do feel the need to lay your baby down with a bottle, then make sure the bottle contains water only. And try to have your baby off the bottle and onto a sippy cup by age one.
It is important to take steps against the onset of baby bottle tooth decay because your child’s first teeth – while temporary – are very important. After all, during the years that your children have baby teeth, they still have to chew and speak – and hopefully smile! Serious consequences can occur if baby teeth are lost too early because of baby bottle tooth decay. These include infection (and the associated pain), speech problems, poor eating habits, and crooked teeth. It’s also possible that adult teeth that come in later will be damaged.
But it’s easy enough to prevent baby bottle tooth decay. Start by wiping your baby’s gums with a clean washcloth after each feeding. As the first teeth come in, use water and a small brush to gently brush them. In addition to not providing sugary substances in bottles (especially at bedtime or during naps), also don’t dip pacifiers in anything sweet (such as honey). And, of course, schedule regular appointments with your family dentist once the child is old enough.
If you live in the Columbus or Reynoldsburg areas, you may want to visit our office, which is kid-friendly. We generally start seeing children for cleaning and check-ups between the ages of 2 and 3. And we can see children before the age of 2 if there are specific concerns that need to be addressed. So if you need a family dentist for you or your children feel free to schedule a free consultation. We look forward to meeting you!