What Is Baby Bottle Tooth Decay?

What Is Baby Bottle Tooth Decay?

Even though your child will lose all of their primary teeth, they still serve a crucial purpose in your child’s oral health and development. 

Decay is an issue that affects young children when they are not properly weaned off of a baby bottle or they are used excessively. This can cause cavities and changes to the development of the teeth. Read on in this blog from Kids 101 Pediatric Dentistry to learn more about baby bottle tooth decay.

What Is Baby Bottle Tooth Decay?

Children are prone to developing tooth decay from excessive or improper use of baby bottles. Cavities form when bacteria in your baby’s mouth feed off of left-behind sugars and cause acid attacks against your enamel. The enamel will then begin to erode and form cavities.

Babies are not born with this bacteria, but it can be introduced to them through their environment. This is why you must be careful about what you give your child to soothe them, what you feed them, and how you put them to sleep. Baby bottles can contribute to excessive exposure to sugar.

Causes of Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

This is a phenomenon where infant children get tooth decay in their primary teeth as a result of frequent or prolonged use of baby bottles before sleep, drinking sugary drinks from their bottle, using it as a pacifier or sharing utensils which results in saliva exchange from mother to baby. 

Tips for Prevention

You should never put sugary soft drinks or juices in your child’s baby bottle. Only place milk or formula in your child’s baby bottle and schedule bottle feeding before it’s time to put your child to bed. 

Giving them a baby bottle right before bed increases their risk for tooth decay because saliva production slows down when they’re sleeping. Saliva washes away left-behind food particles and sugars and neutralizes the acidity in your mouth. 

Speaking of saliva, you should never share saliva with your child, whether that’s by licking their pacifier to clean it or sharing utensils. The bacteria in your mouth will invade theirs and cause cavities. 

Without this, acids will be attacking your child’s teeth all night. Your child should also ideally stop using a baby bottle by their first birthday. If you wait longer than this, it can be difficult to break the habit and it can result in unwanted oral health problems and developmental issues. 

Make sure to keep your child’s teeth and gums healthy by brushing their teeth twice a day with an age-appropriate amount of fluoride toothpaste twice a day. 

How to Wean Your Baby Off of Bottles

To encourage your child to stop using baby bottles and switch to cups, you should teach your child how to drink from a cup as early as 6 months old. While it’ll likely take until they are around 1 year old to gain the dexterity necessary to drink without dropping everything, this will make the transition easier, and help them get off of baby bottles sooner. 

You can start weaning them off of the baby bottle by slowly reducing how often you offer it to your child. If your baby drinks from a bottle multiple times per day, you can start by removing one of these baby bottle feedings and insisting that they drink from a cup instead. 

You can use positive reinforcement to encourage them by telling them they’re getting so grown up that they’re allowed to drink from a big kid’s cup now. Each time they’re able to drink from a cup instead of a bottle, you can give them a small reward. 

Wait about a week before you begin to replace additional bottle feedings with cups. We also recommend starting to remove the morning bottles first and removing the night bottles last. The nighttime bottles are often used as a way to soothe a child before bed and this will be the most difficult one to wean off of.

How Your Pediatric Dentist At Kids 101 Pediatric Dentistry Can Help

Need help weaning your child off of baby bottles or want to learn more about baby bottle tooth decay? We can help! 

At Kids 101 Pediatric Dentistry, we can help suggest techniques that will encourage your child to drink from a cup instead of a baby bottle by using positive reinforcement instead of negative talk and punishment. 

This is the best way to encourage behavior change in children. Contact us today to schedule an appointment with Dr. Nelcy Sanchez.

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