Your baby’s primary teeth play a crucial role in maintaining good oral health for the long term and the eventual development of their permanent teeth. Did you know that baby bottles, when used excessively or incorrectly, can contribute to tooth decay that causes long-term oral health problems? Read on in this blog from Smilehaus Pediatric Dentistry in Mechanicsburg to find out how to prevent baby bottle tooth decay.
This is a form of tooth decay that happens when a child is repeatedly given a baby bottle right before sleep or when they drink excessively sugary drinks from their baby bottle. Baby bottle tooth decay can also be caused by shared salivae, such as when a parent licks a pacifier clean and hands it to their child or when drinks are shared. This bacteria from your mouth can lead to cavities, as can excess sugar.
It’s important to reduce baby bottle usage as time goes on. Excessive use of the baby bottle and especially baby bottle feedings right before bed should be avoided. This is because your child’s saliva production slows down when they are sleeping, which reduces their ability to wash away left-behind food particles and bacteria.
This leads to cavity-causing bacteria lingering around the mouth for much longer and increasing their risk of tooth decay. Never share drink bottles or allow your saliva to come into contact with your child’s mouth.
It’s also important for your child to form good oral hygiene habits from a young age. Their first dental visit should occur by the time they are one year old and you should wipe their gums clean before they receive their first tooth.
Once their first tooth comes in, start brushing with an infant toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste the size of a grain of rice until they are 3 years old. Once they are 3 years old, you can increase this to a pea-sized amount of fluoride.
If your child is suffering from baby bottle tooth decay, they may experience tooth pain or you may notice white spots on their teeth. However, this can easily go undetected due to the size of your baby’s teeth. This is why regular checkups and cleanings every 6 months are necessary.
If your child does have baby bottle tooth decay, there are various treatments available. Fluoride is the first weapon of choice against tooth decay. Fluoride is a crucial mineral that plays a big role in maintaining the health, strength, and bacteria resistance of your teeth.
This is available in fluoride varnish or in silver diamine fluoride treatments, which can actively reverse the decay and remineralize your teeth. Other options include dental sealants, a diet low in sugar, and stainless steel crowns.
By understanding how to avoid baby bottle tooth decay, you set your child up for an optimal dental future. Your child’s baby teeth can become infected and even need to be removed if they become extensively decayed.
While baby teeth may seem unimportant since they fall out anyway, this could not be further from the truth. They help maintain space in the mouth for the permanent tooth to erupt through and prevent the surrounding teeth from shifting. If you’re worried your child has tooth decay, contact us at Smilehaus Pediatric Dentistry in Mechanicsburg to schedule a consultation with Dr. Nana Odoom.