When an infant or toddler develops cavities it is often referred to as Baby Bottle Tooth Decay. As the name suggests, this decay typically results when liquids from a bottle stay on a child’s teeth for long or frequent periods of time.
Any liquid that contains sugars can contribute to baby bottle tooth decay. These include: breast milk, milk, baby formula, fruit juices, pops and other sweetened drinks.
How Does Baby Bottle Tooth Decay Occur?
Baby bottle tooth decay is most likely to occur when a child is given a bottle to lie down with for bedtime or nap time. This results in the baby’s teeth being in constant contact with liquids which eventually convert to sugars. If the sugars are not cleaned from the teeth, then the decay process begins.
As the child sucks on their bottle, the sugars in the liquids pool around the teeth and create acids that sit on the teeth. If this is not removed in a timely manner then dental plaque, a sticky, colourless film of bacteria and sugars forms and clings to the teeth. This process is the same for adult teeth.
Dental plaque is the main cause of cavities as it causes the tooth enamel to break down and as a result, a cavity can form.
Baby bottle tooth decay usually starts in the back of the front teeth and often goes unnoticed because it’s at a hard place to see. The baby teeth are also more susceptible to cavities and erosion as the enamel on the new teeth are quite porous.
As the teeth begin to decay you will first notice the teeth yellow and then progressively darken. If left untreated, the teeth with eventually become very black, soft, and brittle and then chip and crack.
How Can Baby Bottle Tooth Decay Be Prevented?
There are preventative measures that can be taken to help lessen the likelihood of baby bottle tooth decay from occurring.
- have your child finish their bottle while they are awake or put them to bed with water in their bottle.
- avoid letting your child drink from a bottle throughout the day
- avoid any sugary drinks including all natural fruit juices
- do not allow your child to fall asleep at the breast
- after 6 months of age introduce a sippy cup and allow the child to drink from it at meals times and not throughout the day
- clean your child’s teeth with a washcloth or infant toothbrush after every feeding and especially before bedtime
Treatments For Tooth Decay
There are different options for treating tooth decay all which depend entirely on the extent of the cavities. Your Burnaby Dentist can advise you on how best to treat your child’s affected teeth.
Prevention is the best measurement that can be taken. Sticking to a consistent oral hygiene routine will help protect your child’s teeth and prevent oral health problems. Your child’s oral hygiene routine will likely become part of their daily routine and you’ll have a family with excellent oral health habits.
For more information about our dentists and services for your children, please contact North Burnaby Dental Group.