A Pediatric Dentist Discusses Baby Bottle Tooth Decay
As a local pediatric dentist
, we treat patients that are very young and recommend that children start to see the dentist when they are one year of age. Many parents don’t start to think about their children’s oral health until they become school age. Unfortunately, baby bottle tooth decay is a common problem that impacts babies and toddlers. Having your child’s teeth and gums inspected is important for determining if there is an issue and removing bacteria and plaque that has built up.
This condition can actually develop fairly easily. At night, our bodies produce a limited amount of saliva. Saliva is used to naturally wash away bacteria from our teeth and gums. When a baby is given a bottle at night, or nurses after bedtime, sugar is placed on their teeth, and it becomes a breeding ground for bacteria. The bacteria in turn creates acid that attacks the teeth. When this is done repeatedly, over and over again on a nightly basis, it can put a baby’s teeth at great risk for tooth decay. This is why we always recommend weaning babies off of nighttime feedings once their teeth come in.
Once a baby turns one year of age we recommend scheduling an appointment with our pediatric dentist
office. We can examine their teeth and gums to determine if they are at risk for tooth decay. We will also remove the bacteria that can cause tooth infections. We are experts at treating young patients and work to ensure that they feel both comfortable and excited to be at the dentist.
At home, there are things you can do to prevent your child from experiencing baby bottle tooth decay.
• Brush with a washrag. Before your baby gets their first tooth in, you can use a damp washrag to wipe milk and bacteria off of their gums. This is a good habit to get into and should continue until most of their teeth are in. This will also provide soothing relief while they are teething.
• Replace milk with water. If your baby must take a bottle to bed, slowly replace the milk or formula with water. You can start by watering it down until eventually, only water remains. This is a healthy drink to take to bed and will not create any oral health issues.
• Brush twice a day. Once the baby’s first tooth has come in, it is time to start brushing their teeth at least twice a day. You can buy a rubber toothbrush at the local drug store. Place it on the tip of your finger with a small amount of baby toothpaste and use it to brush their teeth and gums. Babies enjoy biting down on it while teething, and the simple design will protect your fingers.
• Avoid sugary drinks. Your baby doesn’t need juice, soda, and other sugary drinks. Milk and water are healthier alternatives and won’t harm their teeth as much.
As a pediatric dentist
, we welcome questions from patients and would be happy to help you create a plan for taking care of your baby’s teeth. Call and schedule an appointment today.