While children are undoubtedly blessings, they can sometimes be difficult.
For instance, putting a child to bed or pacifying them when they are unsettled, can be a struggle.
Oftentimes, caregivers think that giving a child a bottle is an easy and harmless solution.
In fact, that bottle can do more harm than good, if the easier bedtime or calmer child comes at the expense of baby bottle tooth decay.
The fact is that if allowing your child to keep a bottle in their mouth for too long can harm their current oral health and adversely affect their future dental health.
At Warner Lakes Dental we know that good oral health when young can result in good oral health as an adult. That’s why we’re here to help you fight against baby bottle tooth decay and get your child off to a lifetime of good oral health! We’re giving you 8 signs to look out for in your child for baby bottle tooth decay.
What Is Baby Bottle Tooth Decay?
The National Child Oral Health Study shows dental decay is the most common oral issue for Australian children. One-third of children between the ages of five and six have symptoms of decay in their temporary teeth.
Oral health specialist Thanh Le places the blame for this on highly-sugared bottle feeding, “Children as young as one-and-a-half or two years old are getting dental decay, whether it’s from bottle feeding at night time or from juices on a regular basis.”
Baby bottle decay is a condition infants and toddlers can develop from over-exposure to drinks containing sugar. Sugars in liquid mix with bacteria in the mouth, creating acids that attack tooth enamel.
Each time a child drinks liquids containing sugar, acids attack the teeth for about 20 minutes. If the child is awake, saliva carries away most of the acids. During sleep, however, saliva flow decreases significantly and sugary liquids pool around the child’s teeth for long periods. This leads to decay and cavities.
The most common drinks that cause decay include:
- Sugar water
8 Signs of Baby Bottle Tooth Decay
Normally, the first evidence of baby bottle tooth decay is white spots appearing on the surface of the teeth. This can be difficult for a parent to detect. However, without treatment, infant caries can progress to more severe decay.
Symptoms of advanced baby bottle tooth decay can include:
- Bad breath
- Brown or black spots on teeth
- Red, irritated, or bleeding gums
- Fever caused by infection
- Tenderness when eating hot, cold, or sweet foods
- Difficulty chewing that can lead to poor nutritional habits
- Serious infection
- Tooth loss
What Can I Do At Home To Prevent Baby Bottle Tooth Decay?
Baby bottle tooth decay can be prevented by a dedicated parent.
Here are some of the steps to take to keep baby bottle tooth decay away:
- Regular dental appointments. This not only protects against a wide range of dental issues, it also gets your child used to the dentist’s office and helps them build good oral health habits.
- Avoid transmitting bacteria to your child via saliva exchange. Rinse pacifiers and toys in clean water, and don’t share spoons.
- Gently cleanse gums after every feeding with a damp, clean washcloth.
- Use a baby toothbrush along with a dentist-recommended toothpaste to brush when teeth begin to show. We recommend fluoride-free toothpaste for children under the age of two.
- Use a dab of fluoridated toothpaste once a child is capable of “spitting out” excess toothpaste.
- Do not put sugary drinks in baby bottle or sippy cups. Instead, fill these containers with water, breast milk, or formula.
- Encourage children to use regular cups (rather than a sippy cup) when they reach one year of age.
- Don’t dip pacifiers in sweet liquids (honey, etc.).
- Cut down on sugar-filled snacks and encourage a healthy, nutritious diet.
- Do not allow your child to take a liquid-filled bottle to bed. If the child insists, fill the bottle with water as opposed to a drink containing sugar.
- Clean your child’s teeth until he or she reaches the age of seven. Before this time, children are not coordinated enough to reach all areas of the mouth.
Treatment for baby bottle tooth decay depends on how severe the case. In severe cases, teeth may need to be extracted. This is why once your child’s first tooth appears, it is important to schedule their first appointment with Warner Lakes Dental!
The Warner Lakes Dental Experience
Warner Lakes Dental wants your visit to be the quickest and most convenient dental experience possible. From parking to treatment, we try to make the entire process as simple and painless as possible. From routine check-ups and cleans to root canals, extractions, and cosmetic treatments, Warner Lakes Dental is your partner in dental health.
Child Dental Benefits Schedule
Bulk Bill for children who are eligible for MEDICARE CHILD DENTAL BENEFIT SCHEDULE
Up to $1,013 worth of dental treatments over two years
Learn more about Child Dental Benefits Schedule