How to Protect Your Child from Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

Pediatric Dentistry for Avon, Connecticut

Tips For Preventing Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

Protecting baby teeth is important. Primary teeth allow a child to chew food, which is essential for good nutrition. They also help a child learn how to speak properly and hold spaces for permanent teeth so they can erupt in the right positions in the mouth.

Baby teeth can get cavities just like permanent teeth. Baby bottle tooth decay refers to cavities in infants and toddlers.

Baby bottle tooth decay often occurs in the upper front teeth, but it can also affect other teeth. It is commonly caused by prolonged exposure to sugary beverages that expose the teeth to acid. This happens if a baby is put to bed with a bottle containing milk, formula, or juice, or if a bottle is used instead of a pacifier to quiet a crying baby.

Tooth decay can also be passed from a parent or caregiver to a baby if the adult shares a spoon with the baby or cleans a pacifier by putting it in his or her mouth. This transfers bacteria from the adult’s mouth to the baby’s and can lead to cavities.

Inadequate levels of fluoride can also contribute to tooth decay. A baby can get fluoride through the public water supply, supplements, varnish, or toothpaste.

There are several ways you can prevent baby bottle tooth decay:

  • Put only formula, milk, or breast milk in bottles. Do not fill a bottle with sugar water, juice, or soft drinks. Do not put your child to bed with a bottle.
  • Try to get your child to start drinking from a cup by his or her first birthday.
  • Only give your child a clean pacifier. Do not dip it in sugar or honey.
  • Don’t share saliva with your baby by putting the baby’s spoon or pacifier in your mouth.
  • Wipe your baby’s gums with a clean, damp gauze pad or wash cloth after every feeding. When your baby begins to get teeth, brush them with a child-sized toothbrush and an amount of fluoride toothpaste the size of a grain of rice until the age of 3. Use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste from the ages of 3 to 6. Supervise brushing until your child is able to spit out the toothpaste and not swallow it, which is generally around the age of 6 or 7.
  • Give your baby healthy meals, snacks, and beverages.
  • Take your child to the dentist for an exam by the age of 1.

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David Epstein
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18 Dec 2018 11:47 AM