Baby Bottle Tooth Decay: Should Parents Worry?

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Baby Bottle Tooth Decay, also known as early childhood caries, is a fairly common dental problem among kids below 5 years. Baby Bottle Tooth Decay is caused by prolonged and regular exposure of a child’s primary or baby teeth to liquids containing sugars like milk, baby formula, juice, or other sweetened drinks. These liquids that are left in the mouth while a child sleeps encourages the growth of cavities and tooth decay. While baby teeth are temporary, they are just as important to younger children since they need healthy teeth for chewing food, speaking, or just having a nice smile. 


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Terrifying Truths About Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

  • According to the American Dental Association, early childhood caries is a bacterial disease and an infectious one, and tooth decay can start as soon as the child’s first tooth emerges (around 6 months old). 
  • Tooth decay is the single most common continuing disease in children. It is 5 times more common than asthma, 4 times more common than early childhood obesity, and 20 times more common than diabetes.  
  • Early childhood caries can affect your child’s speech development, nutrition, sleeping, learning, playing and quality of life, even into adulthood.

Significance of Treatment for Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

If left untreated, baby bottle tooth decay can cause pain, infection, and eventually ruin a child’s teeth. As mentioned earlier, it can even have a strong and lasting effect on a child’s overall general health. If your child does develop baby bottle tooth decay, you and your child’s dentist can work together to determine the best treatment option to restore your child’s good oral health. Note though that the kind of dental treatment will depend on the severity of the baby bottle tooth decay. The earlier this dental problem is addressed, the less extensive and invasive the treatment will be. We at Kidsmile can partner with you on this. 

Parents’ Role: Awareness and Prevention

The good news is that baby bottle tooth decay can be prevented. To us parents, while it may be a challenge, let us not allow our children to fall asleep with the baby bottle still containing these sugary liquids. Ideally, let them finish their bottles first before they take a nap or go to bed. 

In cases where you cannot avoid this, you can exercise the following ways as prevention of baby bottle tooth decay: 

  • After your child has finished with the bottle, using a moistened cloth, gently wipe and massage his or her teeth and gums to prevent bacteria buildup. We recommend that you do this after every feeding. 
  • Prepare ahead and have a bottle of water ready for when your child finishes the drink. Substitute the bottle of water so that the last thing your child takes in is water. It will help in rinsing and cleaning your child’s teeth and gums. 
  • You can also start to gradually lessen the use of baby bottles and transition the use of cups for drinking when your child turns one year of age. 

When your child’s first tooth appears, it is best to visit a pediatric dentist to schedule his or her dental check-up. This is similar to how you would visit a pediatrician for your child’s regular check-up. Proper oral hygiene like brushing and flossing, together with regular dentist visits, will come a long way in helping your child’s oral health. 

Having healthy baby teeth will usually result in healthy permanent teeth. Starting early and working together with your child’s dentist is the key to your child’s overall oral health’s success!  


Sources:

Baby Bottle Tooth Decay, American Dental Association (https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/b/baby-bottle-tooth-decay)

Statement on Early Childhood Caries, American Dental Association (https://www.ada.org/en/about-the-ada/ada-positions-policies-and-statements/statement-on-early-childhood-caries

Early Childhood Caries, American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (http://www.mychildrensteeth.org/assets/2/7/ECCstats.pdf)

Treatment For Baby Bottle Tooth Decay, Colgate (https://www.colgate.com/en-us/oral-health/life-stages/infant-oral-care/treatment-for-baby-bottle-tooth-decay-0414)

What’s Baby Bottle Tooth Decay?, Delta Dental of California (https://www.deltadentalins.com/oral_health/baby_bottle.html)

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