Tooth decay can happen in the youngest of dental patients. Although you would not think a baby would have tooth decay, it can certainly happen and cause great harm. Decay is often seen in babies who take a regular bottle without cleaning the teeth afterward. This is referred to as bottle tooth decay. The following are some things you need to know:
What is Bottle Tooth Decay?
Bottle tooth decay happens when a child's teeth start to decay after a long exposure to the sugars found in juice, baby formula, and the like. This decay is typically apparent on the front teeth where they receive the bulk of the liquid on the teeth. Decay can also occur on back teeth as well.
What Causes Bottle Tooth Decay?
Frequent use of a bottle without proper cleaning of the teeth. Bottles are often used to satisfy fussy babies, which can also cause the influx of tooth decay on the baby teeth. Babies who go to bed with a bottle also are at risk for bottle tooth decay, since the child typically falls asleep once he or she finishes the bottle without cleaning the teeth.
How Can You Prevent Bottle Tooth Decay?
There are many different ways to prevent the decay of your child's teeth. The best thing you can do is clean your child's teeth after every feeding. When the first teeth erupt, you can use a baby toothbrush or a soft cloth to clean the teeth. You do not need any toothpaste. Simply wipe the teeth with fresh water after each feeding.
Also, avoid giving any sugary drinks in a bottle. Only formula or breast milk should be fed in a bottle. Other liquids are best served in a sippy cup. For best results, avoid giving any sugary drinks at all, particularly juice and soda. If you do give your child sugary beverages, consider diluting them to help decrease the amount of sugar on the teeth.
Do not put your child to bed with a bottle. This causes liquid to sit in the child's mouth and on the teeth for a prolonged amount of time.
If your child's teeth begin to decay due to the use of a bottle, get to your pediatric dentist right away. Your dentist can remedy most decay with pediatric dental sealants, fillings, or extractions in the most extreme cases. Prolonging pediatric dental care will have a negative impact on the child's overall health.