Baby Bottle Decay

Baby teeth may be temporary, but they're important. If your baby loses their teeth too early, the rest of their teeth may shift out of position. This can make it harder for the adult teeth to come in.

Early childhood caries, tooth decay, or baby bottle tooth decay is the most common chronic childhood disease in Canada. If not treated early, it can cause pain and discomfort and require costly treatments.

Good oral hygiene habits are crucial even before the first tooth comes in. Preventing tooth decay is possible by staying proactive.

What Causes Baby Bottle Decay?

Tooth decay occurs when cavity-causing bacteria infect a baby’s mouth.

Parents, relatives, and caregivers may unknowingly pass bacteria to babies through their saliva. This can happen when you share utensils or try on food before giving it to babies.

Tooth decay can also develop if a child’s teeth are frequently exposed to sugary food and beverages for an extended period.

Added sugars, for example, combine with bacteria and produce acids that beat down the enamel - the outermost layer of the teeth - and cause it to decay.

But one most common cause of tooth decay is when babies sleep with their bottle containing formula, milk, juice, or any sugary drink in their mouth.

It can also happen during the day if children are left with a sippy cup or bottle for long periods.

Salivary flow decreases during sleep. This makes the teeth even more vulnerable to acid attacks. If babies are left with a bottle or pacifier dipped in sweets, the sugars will keep coating their teeth.

The decreased amount of saliva won’t be enough to wash the sugars away. Bacteria will then find their way, and eventually, lead to decay.

Here’s Dr. Lachman talking about baby bottle decay and why dental professionals don’t recommend letting babies sleep with their bottle filled with formula or any sugary drink.

Signs of Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

Tooth decay usually affects the upper front teeth, but it can also damage the rest of the teeth. Here are some symptoms to look out for:

  • White spots on the gum line or the surface of the teeth
  • Cavities or holes in the teeth
  • Swollen, tender, or bleeding gums
  • Sore tooth
  • Fever due to the gum or tooth infection

It may be hard to notice white spots in the gums or teeth without using equipment. Your dentist needs to examine your child’s teeth and mouth to detect the presence of decay and keep it from spreading.

How to Prevent Baby Bottle Decay

Tooth decay is common but is also preventable. Here are some tips to protect your children against it:

  • Wipe your baby’s gum gently using a clean washcloth. Begin brushing their teeth as soon as they erupt using a soft baby toothbrush.
  • Brush your child’s teeth at least twice a day, especially before going to bed.
  • Never leave your baby with a bottle or food. This helps reduce exposure of your child’s teeth to sugars and also prevents choking hazards at the same time.
  • Don’t dip pacifiers in sweets or let your child go through the day with it. You may leave a bottle, pacifier, or sippy gum with your child but only with water in it.
  • Train your child to use a regular cup as early as possible to minimize direct sugar or acid exposure.
  • Limit the amount of sticky, sugary, or starchy food. Give them desserts or sweets along with their meals, while there’s still an adequate amount of saliva in the mouth.
  • Avoid giving juices to children. Plain water or the actual fruit is a lot better and safer.
  • See the dentist by the time they turn one or when their teeth start to come in.

The sooner you see your dentist, the earlier they can examine your child’s teeth. This is also a wonderful opportunity to ask them about any concerns you may have regarding your child’s oral health.

Take Your Child to Your Lethbridge Dentist for Routine Checkups

Baby bottle tooth decay and cavities can be prevented. Look after your child’s teeth and help them maintain healthy smiles for a lifetime.

If you’re looking for a dentist in Lethbridge area, we invite you to book an appointment with Dr. Lachman.

Our entire team is happy to answer questions about your child’s teeth or your family’s dental care needs.