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Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

What is baby bottle tooth decay?    

Baby bottle tooth decay (BBTD) can develop if your child’s teeth and gums are in prolonged contact with almost any liquid other than water. This usually occurs when a child is put to bed with a bottle of milk, formula, juice, soft drinks, sugary water, etc. It can also occur when the baby is allowed to suck on a bottle or breastfeed longer than a mealtime. BBTD is due to the liquid from a baby bottle building up in the mouth. The natural or added sugars found in the liquid are changed to acid by germs in the mouth. The acid then starts to dissolve the teeth, which causing them to decay.

Signs and Symptoms; how to recognize it?

BBTD first shows up as white spots on the upper front teeth. These spots can be difficult to see at first. It can even be hard for a pediatrician or orthodontist to see these white spots without the proper equipment. A child with tooth decay needs to get treatment early to stop the decay from spreading and to prevent lasting damage to the teeth.

Home treatment; what to do?

Here are a few steps to help prevent BBTD: •Never put your child to bed with a bottle. By 7 or 8 months of age, most children no longer need feedings during the night. •Only give your baby a bottle during meals. Do not use the bottle as a pacifier; do not allow your child to walk around with it or to drink it for extended periods. •Teach your child to drink from a cup as soon as possible, usually by 1 year of age. Drinking from a cup does not cause the liquid to collect around the teeth, and a cup cannot be taken to bed. •If your child must have a bottle for long periods; fill it only with water.

It is important to also keep your baby’s mouth clean in order to prevent tooth decay. Many parents assume that decay does not matter in baby teeth because the teeth just fall out anyway, but decay in baby teeth poses risks. If your child loses his baby teeth too early because of decay, the permanent teeth will not be ready to replacement them yet. Baby teeth act as a guide for the permanent teeth. After feedings, gently brush your baby’s gums and any baby teeth with a soft infant toothbrush. It is best to start using water and a soft child toothbrush for daily cleanings once your child has seven to eight teeth. By age 2, you should be brushing your baby’s teeth once or twice daily; preferably after breakfast and before bedtime. You can also begin using fluoride toothpaste when you are sure it will not be swallowed by the child; this is usually around 3 years of age. Only use a pea-size amount of toothpaste. If you are concerned that your child may have BBTD, see your pediatrician, who can then refer you to a pediatric dentist.

Information on this site is intended for Angel Kids Pediatrics patients only. Always consult your doctor before beginning, modifying, or discontinuing any treatment plan.

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