Baby bottle tooth decay
Baby bottle tooth decay, common among infants and young children, destroys teeth and causes cavities. A child’s teeth begin to appear in the first year of life; even though these teeth are not permanent, they should still be taken seriously. Baby bottle tooth decay can lead to poor eating habits, speech problems, crooked teeth, damaged adult teeth and yellow or brown adult teeth.
Baby bottle tooth decay is caused by regularly exposing teeth to sugary liquids. Milk, formula, fruit juice and soda are often the culprits. Letting a child nap with a bottle causes the liquid to pool and sit on the child’s teeth while he or she is sleeping. The liquid combined with bacteria already in the child’s mouth can cause plaque. Plaque will eat away at the child’s teeth, and eventually the child will get cavities. Such cavities can leave children with black or brown holes in their teeth.
- Baby bottle tooth decay can be prevented by:
- Wiping or brushing the child’s teeth after feeding.
- Not allowing the child to sleep with a bottle.
- Starting dental visits between 6 and 12 months.
If you think your child has signs of baby bottle tooth decay visit a dentist right away. Signs for concern include black or brown spots and chalky white spots or lines. Baby bottle tooth decay can be serious, but doesn’t have to be if precautions are taken.
When should I start teeth brushing with my child?
Once your baby has a couple of teeth, begin modeling healthy dental habits by cleaning his/her teeth twice a day. Do this with a damp, soft cloth or with an infant toothbrush. Only use water to brush your child’s teeth until 3 years of age; fluoride can cause tooth discoloration for children younger than 3. As your child becomes interested, let him/her brush his/her own teeth but always help to brush difficult-to-reach areas.
When should my child see the dentist?
Schedule your child’s first dental visit by one year of age. At this point the dentist will just check to be sure everything is coming in OK.
Once your child turns 3 years, get him/her to the dentist every six months. The first several check-ups serve to introduce your child to the dentist. The doctor will check to be sure there are no major problems such as baby-bottle tooth decay. Your child may suggest fluoride treatments after your child turns 3 if he/she thinks your child is not getting enough in the water.