Baby bottle caries are cavities caused by long-term exposure to liquids that contain sugar. Sending your child to bed with a bottle of formula, milk, or juice is a primary cause of tooth decay in infants and young children. Using a bottle as a pacifier to soothe a child can also lead to caries.
What causes tooth decay in infants?
Bacteria cause tooth decay, but babies are not born with bacteria in their mouths. Bacteria are introduced by a primary caregiver who passes on his or her saliva to the child. For example, if a mother shares a spoon with her baby, she can unknowingly pass cavity-causing bacteria on to her child.
The bacteria in baby’s mouth need food to live. If there is a constant source of sugary liquids in his or her mouth, bacteria will thrive in the child’s mouth. Acid is a byproduct of bacteria breaking down sugars. The acid attacks the child’s teeth, eating into the enamel and causing decay.
Where do baby bottle caries occur?
While they can happen anywhere, baby bottle caries most often occur in the front upper teeth.
How can you prevent baby bottle caries?
Here’s ways you can prevent baby bottle caries.
- Don’t share eating utensils with your baby, and certainly don’t clean a pacifier with your mouth. Wipe your child’s gums with a clean damp cloth after each feeding.
- After you child get his or her baby teeth, brush them with a child-size toothbrush and a rice-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste until the age of 3.
- Between the ages of 3 and 6, use a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste to clean your child’s teeth.
- Be certain to monitor your child’s brushing until you’re certain he or she won’t swallow toothpaste. This is usually around age 7.
- Only use formula, milk, or breast milk in bottles. Don’t give your child a bottle filled with sugar water, juice, sports drinks, or soft drinks.
- Don’t send infants to bed with a bottle. Let them finish the bottle before putting them down for a nap.
- Don’t dip your child’s pacifier in sugar or honey.
- Let your child practice drinking from a cup so he or she will be done with bottles by the age of 1.
- Make sure your child’s teeth are as healthy as they can be by scheduling regular checkups.
Let us help you prevent baby bottle caries.
Contact us to schedule an appointment to make sure your child’s teeth are as healthy as they can be. Did you know that we’ll provide you a quality pediatric dentist accepting Medicaid? Contact us for more information, today.