If you are a new parent, you might not have heard of Baby Bottle Tooth Decay. It is genuine tooth decay in baby teeth, and it only needs two ingredients to attack your infant’s mouth: a sleeping baby and a baby bottle of sugary drink.
Whereas some generations thought it was a great idea to allow baby to nap with a bottle full of orange or apple drink, modern dentists know better. That’s why we call this warning blog article, “a red alert.”
“Baby Bottle Tooth Decay is caused by the frequent and long-term exposure of a child’s teeth to liquids containing sugars.”
So what other liquids are to be avoided? It is also very bad for baby’s oral health to have milk, formula, soda or sweet drinks of any kind in the bottle at nap time. Can you guess the only “good” liquid for your baby to enjoy before drifting to sleep for a nap? It’s pure, cool, delicious, refreshing, and naturally hydrating. It’s water!
Baby Bottle Decay with the Bottle
Here’s what happens when the baby drinks a sweet drink as he or she naps:
1. Sugars, even milk sugars, pool in the gums and up against tiny teeth.
2. They feed the nasty bacteria that live in plaque.
3. Over and over, every time this happens, during every nap-time or bed-time bottle, the acid produced by this bacteria (mouth monsters!) attacks the delicate gums and tiny, growing baby teeth.
4. Numerous bacterial attacks cause the teeth and gums to become unhealthy and set up the perfect situation for decay. “Giving an infant a sugary drink at nap or nighttime is harmful because during sleep, the flow of saliva decreases, allowing the sugary liquids to linger on the child’s teeth for an extended period of time. If left untreated, severe decay can result, which can cause pain and infection.”
We will not be nostalgic about apple juice at nap-time. It was a custom that simply invited bacteria to, in Star Trek language, “go where no one has gone before.”
Therefore, we are issuing a “Red Alert” to modern parents in galaxies everywhere. Grandma or Great Grandma might think formula or orange juice is condusive to a good nap, but it is also condusive to deplorable tooth decay.
By the way, read all the fun adventures of fighting mouth monsters like “Tooth D.K.,” “Ginger-bite-us” and “TarTar the Terrible,” at the online resource of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. You will also find cartoon posters and pictures to download for the enchantment and encouragement of your children’s good dental hygiene habits.
Baby Bottle Decay without the Bottle
Shocking News: Breast-fed babies are not immune to this situation. Breast-fed babies with prolonged feeding habits can also contract this condition. Likewise, babies who are indulged with pacifiers, coated in honey or sugar-syrup, can contract the same kind of powerful decay.
These little habits cause sweet fluids to stay in the mouth as the baby naps. Soon the horrified parent will see a tiny, ugly, discoloration or hole—a baby cavity in a baby tooth. The mouth monsters have claimed an early victory. And it hurts. Untreated, it will cause more pain and misery.
Baby Bottle Decay: The Price Baby Will Pay
Once baby bottle decay has caused serious cavities, teeth might require extensive treatment or extraction. Remember, as we have shared with parents in previous comments, there are serious consequences to the early extraction of baby teeth:
l. Poor eating habits, due to the “feel” of food and the experience of chewing.
2. Slurring, stammering, even communication disorders like stuttering and lisping can result. Likewise, crooked, overlapped, and damaged adult teeth might appear. Overlapping teeth are difficult to clean, and this leads to future dental problems.
Preventing Baby Bottle Tooth Decay: The Strategy
Below you will find Three “Dentistry for Children” Rules from Dr. Troy King. They will help you defend your baby from baby bottle decay and the mouth monsters.
1. Simply, never allow a child to sleep with a bottle of milk, juice, formula or sweet liquids. Likewise, the American Dentistry Association cautions, “Try not to share saliva with the baby through common use of feeding spoons or licking pacifiers.”
2. Keep baby’s mouth, tongue and gums clean with a soft washcloth or a square of gauze. Gentle massage with the cloth on the gums will actually encourage healthy little teeth to grow.
3. When the baby is very young, “wrap a moistened gauze square or washcloth around your finger and gently massage the gums and gingival tissues.” Do this after each feeding, whether the baby is bottle-fed or breast fed.
4. As soon as the first baby tooth erupts, plaque begins. To fight off the mouth monsters, use a soft toothbrush and water. Ask your dentist when to use a little dab of tooth paste no larger than a pea. By the way, your baby should have a “dental home” by the time he or she is 6-12 months old.
Baby Bottle Tooth Decay and Your Baby’s Diet
At first glance, these steps to changing baby’s diet might seem a little sneaky, but you will know your intentions are good!
- Slowly dilute the milk, or formula or juice in a bottle with water over a 2-3 week period.
- Next, when you give the baby a bottle, make it a bottle of nice, refreshing water. If a pacifier is chosen as a naptime companion, make it a clean one. Check that your dentist recommends the brand. Once again, we must repeat, at Dentistry for Children, we only endorse water as a safe liquid to give baby before nap or sleep.
- In general, we believe babies should be weaned from the bottle as soon as they can drink from a cup. This typically corresponds with their first birthday.
- Do not get over zealous and remove the bottle too soon. Did you know that the motions of sucking aid in the appropriate development of the tongue and facial muscles?
Plain and simple, as your infant grows, “Dentistry for Children” recommends you decrease offerings of sugar. Between meals and before naps are especially bad times for sugar snacks because it’s easy to forget to clean the mouth. There’s that sugar, lingering on the gums all morning or all afternoon, feeding bacteria, creating acid, and causing trouble!
Join pediatric dentists everywhere, as we crusade to wipe out Baby Bottle Tooth Decay. Allow your child to go into “the final frontier” of all his or her baby dreams at nap time, to “explore strange new worlds” of imagination, free of naptime sugary drinks and tooth decay. Unlike the Starship Enterprise, he or she won’t need phasers and tricorders to fight the mouth monsters–only healthy eating habits, water, and good oral hygiene.
Let’s be the generation that wipes out Baby Bottle Tooth Decay! At Dentistry for Children, we love giving kids a good start in their oral health. You might say his or her healthy mouth, is our 16 year mission.