Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

Baby bottle tooth decay is typically caused by frequent, prolonged exposure to drinks that contain sugar. As the name implies, a bottle filled with milk, formula or juice is often the main culprit. Particularly when a baby or toddler is put to bed with a bottle, the sugars collect around his or her teeth and gums. Over time this causes bacteria to build up and the tooth or teeth to decay.

Although less common, it can be caused by passing tooth decay bacteria from an adult to kid through saliva. For example, if a mother or primary caregiver often licks a spoon and then offers it to a child, or if they share a cup, the bacteria can be transferred.

Baby bottle tooth decay usually affects the upper front teeth, but it can appear in others as well.  Untreated decay can lead to painful infections, and in severe cases can even require extractions. 

How do I prevent baby bottle tooth decay?

One of the best ways to prevent baby bottle tooth decay is to refrain from putting a child to sleep with a bottle or sippy cup filled with milk, juice, soda or other sugary drinks. You should also limit these drinks and sugary or acidic snacks during the daytime.

Another important step is to establish good dental habits from the beginning. Even before teeth erupt, you can get in the habit of massaging an infant’s gums to provide relief from teething. When first teeth come through, it’s critical to brush your child’s teeth regularly to prevent plaque buildup.

Regular dental visits also help to establish good oral health and decrease the chance of developing baby bottle tooth decay. Your child should visit the dentist by the age of 12 months, then at least every six months after that (or as recommended by your dental provider).  These visits are important to help a child feel comfortable and stress the importance of taking care of his or her teeth. They also give the parents an opportunity to ask questions or discuss any concerns with dental experts.

If you have questions about baby bottle tooth decay or would like to schedule an appointment contact us today.


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