Baby bottle tooth decay is a nickname for tooth decay that happens in babies and toddlers. While this type of decay can happen to any teeth in your child’s mouth, it’s most common in the upper front teeth.
Prolonged exposure to sugar causes baby bottle tooth decay, meaning that when your child consumes sugar over a period of time or frequently consumes sugar, tooth decay can happen.
Unfortunately, your child is at risk for tooth decay as soon as they have teeth, and baby bottle tooth decay is common. So how can you prevent tooth decay from affecting your little one’s smile? Here are your top tips for preventing baby bottle tooth decay!
Don’t Give Your Baby a Bottle Filled With Sugary Drinks
Filling a bottle with a sweet liquid such as juice can encourage your child to continue to drink until all the liquid is gone. This overexposes their teeth to sugar, leading to enamel damage that can cause tooth decay.
If using a bottle for your baby, be sure to only use breastmilk, formula, or milk in the bottle. Your child should be able to drink from a cup by their first birthday, so continue to encourage this practice as your child gets older.
Bottles should never be given in place of a pacifier. If giving your baby a pacifier, don’t dip it in a sugary substance such as honey, as this can also contribute to tooth decay. It’s also important to never put your baby to bed with a bottle or any kind of food, as it can encourage cavity formation due to reduced saliva production while sleeping .
Clean Your Child’s Mouth
You may think you don’t need to clean your child’s mouth if their baby teeth haven’t come in yet. But the truth is that you should clean your child’s mouth at least once a day even if they don’t have teeth.
Take a clean cloth or piece of gauze and gently wipe their mouth after each feeding. Even though you can’t see them, your child’s teeth are forming underneath their gums and will soon make their way in. Keeping your child’s mouth clean is not only a good habit, but can help prevent the buildup of bacteria when their teeth emerge.
As soon as your child has teeth you can begin to gently brush them, and as soon as they have two teeth that touch together, you can begin flossing !
Refrain From Sharing Utensils With Your Child
Did you know that the bacteria in your mouth can spread to your baby’s mouth through shared utensils ? Whether or not you have tooth decay or gum disease, it’s a good idea to limit sharing utensils or straws with your child as their teeth are coming in.
Bacteria that exist in your oral cavity can spread to your baby’s mouth and influence their risk for tooth decay. Get a clean spoon for feedings instead of sharing, and refrain from “cleaning” their pacifier by putting it in your own mouth before giving it to your child.
Remember to Schedule a Dental Exam for Your Child
While it may seem like your child doesn’t need to see the dentist, current guidelines suggest scheduling a visit for your baby around the time of their first birthday. This is when their first teeth should begin to emerge, and your dentist can help ensure the teeth are healthy and developing properly for a bright smile!