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Preventing Baby Bottle Tooth Decay | Children’s Dentistry

A parent feeding a baby with a milk bottle

Did you know that a milk bottle can rot your baby’s teeth? Early childhood caries, also called baby bottle tooth decay, is quite common. Many parents dismiss the concern because infant teeth will fall out anyway, but healthy baby teeth are placeholders for permanent teeth. If your child’s baby teeth are damaged, it can lead to dental problems later on.

What is Baby Bottle Tooth Decay?

“Baby bottle tooth decay” is a dental condition in which your child’s teeth experience early decay. Usually, we observe this in the upper front teeth, but any of your infant’s teeth can experience damage from decay.

What Causes This Type of Tooth Decay? 

Early tooth decay in infants and toddlers can occur due to several reasons, including:

  • Not getting enough fluoride 
  • Prolonged use of a milk bottle
  • Being put to bed with a bottle or a pacifier
  • Exposure to sweet and sugary drinks such as fruit juice 

Not knowing how to properly brush and floss your children’s teeth can only intensify these causes.

Symptoms of Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

If you notice any of these symptoms on your infant’s teeth, it’s important to contact a dentist.

  • Swollen gums along with bleeding
  • Fevers resulting from tooth infections
  • White spots on the surface of your child’s teeth
  • Visible holes in the teeth along with toothaches

These signs can be hard to detect since your babies’ teeth are so small. That is why you should take your kids to the dentist regularly as soon as their first tooth appears or before they turn one. This is the best way to prevent decay.

How To Prevent Early Childhood Caries

The most effective way of preventing a milk bottle from rotting your toddler’s teeth is to limit its use. For instance, make sure your baby finishes a bottle before going to bed and doesn’t keep sucking on it for a prolonged amount of time. Here are some other ways you can protect your infant’s teeth from early decay:

  • Don’t share spoons with your infant to keep your saliva from damaging their teeth.
  • Only put formula or milk in their bottles, not fruit juice or sweet drinks.
  • If you breastfeed, take the nipple out of their mouths once they fall asleep.
  • Avoid putting your children to sleep with a bottle or a pacifier, and don’t let them get used to walking around the house with one. 
  • Clean your infants’ teeth and gums after each feeding with a damp washcloth or gauze pad.
  • Learn how to brush your toddlers’ teeth as soon as their first tooth erupts.
  • Start flossing when your child has enough teeth. 
  • Give your children clean pacifiers without dipping them in honey, sugar, or milk.
  • Limit their juice intake to no more than 6 ounces each day.
  • Model healthy dental habits for your toddler and feed them healthy foods.
  • Schedule regular visits to the dentist’s office to get their teeth checked.

Treatment for Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

If you notice any symptoms of decay in your infants’ teeth, schedule an appointment with the dentist as soon as you can. Not doing so will lead to:

  • Pain and infection in your children’s mouth 
  • Costly and time-consuming restorative treatments
  • Potential damage to the space for permanent teeth

Fortunately, there are several treatments available for this condition based on its severity, including:

  • Fluoride Treatments

Fluoride is a preventative treatment recommended by the Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research that can strengthen the tooth’s enamel and reverse mild decay.

  • Fillings and Extractions

The dentist can cover a visible decay with composite filling to save your infants’ teeth. In more severe cases, pulp therapy or even extraction may be necessary.

  • Sealants 

Severe cases might also require dental sealants to cover the tooth’s pits and fissures, control the decay, and help prevent future cavities.

Along with treatment, the dentist will also give you dietary advice to keep your kids’ teeth safe and healthy.

Protect Your Infants’ Teeth at Children’s Dentistry 

Don’t hesitate to contact a dentist if you suspect your children are suffering from baby bottle tooth decay. You can visit us at Lolo Children’s Dentistry if you’re in Western Montana. Our child-friendly office and experienced staff will put both you and your baby at ease. We’re accepting new patients without waiting lists, and we would love to welcome your little ones to our family. Give us a call at 406-284-8669.

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