Do you assume that because baby teeth are temporary, they aren’t important? Nothing could be further from the truth! Your child’s teeth are critical for chewing, learning to speak properly, and holding a place for permanent teeth to grow in.
If your infant or toddler succumbs to baby bottle tooth decay, pain, infection, and premature tooth loss may result. This can lead to speech problems, difficulty eating, and crooked adult teeth. Learn what puts young children at risk for cavities and how to protect your baby or toddler from tooth decay.
What Causes Baby Bottle Tooth Decay?
Cavities in infants and toddlers are often caused when sugary liquids including milk, formula, and fruit juice stick to your baby’s teeth for an extended time. Bacteria in the mouth thrive on sugar and turn it into acid that eats away at the teeth. Baby bottle tooth decay can affect the whole mouth, but the upper front teeth are the most susceptible.
How to Prevent Tooth Decay in Infants & Toddlers
As a parent, it’s your responsibility to help your child maintain good oral health. Start with these specific tips to prevent baby bottle tooth decay:
- Cut down on sugary treats between meals.
- Don’t dip your child’s pacifier in sugar, maple syrup, or corn syrup.
- Only put water, milk, or formula in baby bottles.
- Ditch the bottle completely by age 1.
- If you choose to give your child juice in a sippy cup, dilute it by half with water.
- Don’t give your toddler soda, as this drink has lots of sugar, artificial ingredients, and no nutritional value.
- Avoid giving your infant sugary drinks right before bedtime.
- Never allow your child to go to bed with a bottle containing anything but water. The flow of saliva decreases during sleep, so harmful bacteria thrive if any sugar clings to your child’s teeth at bedtime.
It’s never too late to break bad habits! Don’t feel guilty if you’ve been putting juice in your baby’s bottle or dipping his pacifier in sugar – simply choose to stop these practices, now that you know how harmful they are.
To prevent your toddler from complaining about watery juice, dilute it gradually over two to three weeks until it’s half water. From then on, offer water most of the time and diluted juice as an occasional treat.
Other Oral Hygiene Tips to Implement at an Early Age
Good oral health habits start young. Adhere to the above tips for preventing baby bottle tooth decay, and then make the following suggestions a habit in your daily life:
- Wipe your baby’s gums with a clean washcloth after each feeding and right before bed.
- When his first tooth appears, begin brushing it with a child toothbrush and no toothpaste. Continue to wipe the gums after each feeding and before bed.
- Once baby teeth start erupting next to each other, floss between them once a day.
- For children ages 2 to 5, use a pea-size amount of child toothpaste and assist in the tooth-brushing process.
- Let your child start brushing unassisted once he can tie his shoes or write his name legibly – usually around age 5 or 6.
Schedule a Dentist Appointment for Your Child at Evanson DDS
We recommend bringing your child to see Dr. Evanson as soon as his first tooth erupts, or around age 1. Our team will determine your child’s risk for baby bottle tooth decay and offer personalized tips to prevent cavities, gingivitis, and other oral health problems. We treat the whole family, so feel free to get your own dental work done while you’re at our Parker office!
For more tips to prevent baby bottle tooth decay, or to schedule an appointment for your child, please call Evanson DDS at (720) 409-0008.Leave a reply →