Most parents work hard to raise healthy kids, and good oral and dental health is an important part of that effort.
What some parents may not realize, though, is that good oral health begins long before their child has a mouth full of teeth.
And one of the early threats to a child’s dental health is baby bottle tooth decay.
Baby bottle tooth decay happens when babies drink from bottles for a prolonged period of time, particularly when they drink liquids full of sugar. This is most common when babies are given bottles before naptime or bedtime to calm them down.
The babies then fall asleep with the bottle in their mouths. This exposes the baby’s teeth and gums to the liquids in the bottle for hours. And if sugar is in the mix, this can lead to tooth decay.
At The Glenroy Dental Group, we want all parents to be aware of baby bottle tooth decay, how to detect it, and what to do.
Who Cares About Temporary Teeth?
Many parents wonder why, if baby teeth are going to fall out, they should be taken care of?
There are reasons. Baby teeth play a key role in proper eating, speaking, and even breathing. They also keep space for the permanent teeth to enter, and help them come in straight and uncrowded.
- Primary teeth hold space for adult teeth and guide them into proper position.
- If cavities in baby teeth develop an infection or abscess it can retard tooth development and cause damage to the permanent tooth underneath.
- Dental pain from cavities can lead to nutritional deficiencies by affecting chewing. If cavities are left untreated, infection may form and to other areas of the body and brain.
- The tongue, lips, and cheeks work with teeth to form sounds. The presence and proper positioning of baby teeth assist in the formation of correct pronunciation during speech.
- Self-esteem – Decayed teeth can harm a child’s social interactions and decrease their confidence and self-esteem.
What Causes Baby Bottle Tooth Decay?
Tooth decay in infants often begins with cavity-causing bacteria being passed from the mother (or caregiver) to the infant through saliva exchange. This can happen when a mother puts a feeding spoon in her mouth, or cleans a pacifier in her mouth.
Once the bacteria has passed on to the infant, frequent, prolonged exposure of the baby’s teeth to drinks that contain sugar feeds the bacteria. Tooth decay can take root if a baby is put to sleep with a bottle, or if a bottle is used to pacify a fussy baby.
What Are The Symptoms Of Baby Bottle Tooth Decay?
Baby tooth decay normally affects the most visible portion of the front teeth.
- Brown or black spots on the teeth
- Bleeding or swollen gums
- Fever, swelling or irritability, which could indicate infection
The teeth remain affected until permanent teeth replace them.
How Can I Help My Child Avoid Baby Bottle Tooth Decay?
Preventing baby bottle tooth decay can mean changes dietary changes, changing how you feed a child, and how often and for how long a child gets a bottle.
Some tips include:
- Dilute the bottle contents with water over a period of two to three weeks.
- After that, give your child a bottle filled with water. The only safe liquid to put in a bottle to prevent baby bottle tooth decay is water.
- Decrease consumption of sugar, especially between meals.
- Wean your child from bottles as soon as they can drink from a cup. The bottle should not be taken away too early, as the sucking motion assists the development of facial muscles, and the tongue. Children should be weaned from the bottle by about one year old.
- If your child falls asleep while feeding, remove the bottle as soon as you notice sucking motions have ended.
- Begin brushing your child’s teeth as soon as they come in. Even before teeth are present, you can clean your child’s gums with a wet cloth.
Baby teeth help your child chew and speak, and hold a place in the jaw for permanent teeth to grow in properly. Taking care of them from the moment they first begin to erupt can prevent the discomfort, inconvenience, and expense caused by baby bottle syndrome
The Glenroy Dental Group and You
At The Glenroy Dental Group, your health and happiness, and that of your loved ones, are our primary goals. We use the most modern technology available and take advantage of the latest dental techniques to ensure that your dental health and appearance are at the highest level. We want you to receive the best possible dental care with no pain or anxiety!
Our offices are conveniently located in the Pascoe Vale Road shopping strip, Glenroy, with plenty of parking space, we are located within easy walking distance of the Glenroy train station.
Child Dental Benefits Schedule
Bulk Bill for children who are eligible for MEDICARE CHILD DENTAL BENEFIT SCHEDULE
Up to $1000 worth of dental treatments over two years
Learn more about Child Dental Benefits Schedule
Contact (03) 9306 6511 or visit us at 2/830 Pascoe Vale Road in Glenroy.