Baby Bottle Decay? What is it? Your first response might be the baby’s bottle is falling apart: Disintegrating. On second thought that’s probably not what Dentistry for Children or other dental experts mean by the term. Then what?
Baby Bottle Decay, An Example
Laura, the mother of two twins, is thrilled at being a new mom. She loves playing games with her little two-year-old girls. And she especially delights in dressing the twins for her daily park outings and picnics.
However, there are days that there are too many things to do and too little time to do them. Sound familiar? And inevitable, these are the days that the sweet little twins decide to be cross or fretful.
Laura always counts on nap time to catch up on household chores and other minor urgencies. On occasions that the girls are fretful and having a difficult time getting to sleep, our young mother employs her favorite remedy.
She knows they love fruit juices. It always seems to comfort them. So, Laura props a bottle of sweet juice or milk on a pillow beside the babies.
And, sure enough, in moments, they are fast asleep. It seems the perfect cure. Or is it? What’s the harm?
New Parents and Baby Bottle Decay
If you are a new parent, you might not have heard of Baby Bottle Decay. Why should you? After all, Babies don’t have any real teeth. – Only a couple of little stubs, barely showing. (We call them “buds.”)
Here at Children for Dentistry, we know that an innocent bottle of juice or milk can be the most deadly foe of healthy teeth. That sweet juice is really the tooth demon in disguise. Additionally, it can attack even the undeveloped teeth under the surface.
Baby bottle decay is genuine tooth decay in baby teeth. Additionally, it only needs two ingredients to attack your infant’s mouth. The first is a sleeping baby and secondly, a baby bottle of sugary drink or formula.
Previous generations thought it was a great idea to allow the baby to nap with a bottle full of orange or apple drink, or even formula. Today, we know better.
Decay Danger: Baby Teeth in Trouble
Young mothers are often shocked to learn that their favorite cure for fretful nap times is dangerous to baby’s teeth. Any such baby bottle can cause decay devastation if the practice is allowed to continue.
“Baby Bottle Tooth Decay is caused by the frequent and long-term exposure of a child’s teeth to liquids containing sugars.” And as mentioned, they are especially harmful at sleepy-time.
What Other Liquids Should Be Avoided?
It might be easier to answer the question, what juices are safe for baby at nap time? The answer lies in an old country song, “Cool Water.”
Some of you may be familiar with this old song, first recorded by Hank Williams and later by Johnny Cash and Marty Robbins. If you’re not familiar with the song, you can check out the lyrics at this site.
“Cool, Clear Water.” This is also your answer to the only liquid that is safe for “nappy time.”
Baby Bottle Decay and the Bottle
Can you imagine what happens when your baby drinks a sweet drink (or even milk) as he or she naps? We’ve mentioned some of these in a previous blog. This list should give you an idea:
- Sugars, even milk sugars, pool in the gums and up against tiny teeth.
- They feed the nasty bacteria that live in plaque.
- Every nap-time or bed-time bottle, the acid produced by this bacteria (mouth monsters!) attacks the delicate gums and tiny, growing baby teeth.
- Finally, 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 time or nighttime is harmful because, during sleep, the flow of saliva decreases. This allows the sugary liquids to linger on the child’s gums or teeth, for an extended period of time. If left untreated, severe decay can result, which can cause pain and infection.”
Baby Bottle Decay: The Price Baby Will Pay
Unfortunately, it’s the baby and parents that pay a price. You see, once the baby bottle decay has begun, it can cause serious problems.
For example, when the teeth erupt, serious cavities could result. Then, his or her teeth might require extensive treatment or even extraction. Additionally, there may be other consequences to the early decay, fillings, or extraction of baby teeth:
- Slurring, stammering, even communication disorders like stuttering and lisping can result.
- Poor eating habits, due to the “feel” of food and the experience of chewing.
- Additionally, crooked, overlapped, and damaged adult teeth could occur.
Overlapping teeth are difficult to clean and this leads to future dental problems.
Baby Bottle Decay Without a Baby Bottle
Have you ever heard of bottle decay without a bottle? Surprise. Breast-fed babies are not immune to bottle decay. They also can contract this condition. After breast-feeding, a mother must gently clean a baby’s mouth, using a delicate touch or a baby washcloth.
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. In the case of babies who have a few tiny teeth, a horrified parent could 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.
3 Rules for Young Mothers: Avoid Baby Bottle Decay
Dr. Troy King has 3 Dentistry for Children rules to help young mothers defend their baby from baby bottle decay and the mouth monsters.
1. Firstly, 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. It’s important to keep the baby’s mouth, tongue and gums clean. So, 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. Believe it or not, massaging will actually encourage healthy little teeth to grow.
3. As soon as the first baby tooth erupts, plaque begins. To fight off the mouth monsters, use a soft toothbrush and water. Additionally, ask your dentist when to use a little dab of toothpaste no larger than a pea.
Giving kids a good start in their oral health is one of our goals at Dentistry for Children. You might say your child’s healthy mouth is our mission.