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What is Baby Bottle Tooth Decay?

What is Baby Bottle Tooth Decay?

When babies and toddlers have decay it's referred to as Baby Bottle Tooth Decay, also known as Early Childhood Caries. Even though a child's teeth are not permanent, their first teeth are the foundation to make sure their adult teeth come in properly. Infants must have healthy oral care to protect their teeth for years after.

What is the cause of Baby Bottle Tooth Decay?

Baby Bottle Tooth Decay usually affects, but is not limited to, the upper front teeth and is caused by:

  • Continual, extended exposure to sugary drinks. Tooth decay can occur when a baby is put to bed with a bottle of juice, formula or milk, or when a bottle is used to soothe the baby before a nap. This is the most common cause of Baby Bottle Tooth Decay. Infants and toddlers should not be given soda and should have a very limited amount of juice. It's also best to dilute juices with water because even 100% juice contains a high amount of sugar.

  • Cavity-causing bacteria is passed through saliva. If a mother or father shares a feeding spoon with their baby, they are passing their bacteria to a child. If you have cavities or gum disease, you should not be sharing drinks or a utensils with your child.

  • If your infant or toddler does not get an appropriate amount of fluoride, they can be susceptible to cavities. There is a silver lining: tooth decay is preventable!

  • Do your best to not pass saliva with your child by sharing a spoon, drink or licking their pacifier. After eating, keep your baby's gums clean by wiping them with a clean washcloth or damp gauze.

  • Begin brushing your child's teeth once their first tooth appears. Use the appropriate toothbrush for their age and grain of rice sized amount of fluoride toothpaste until they turn 3 years old.

  • When a child is age 3-6, use a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste.

  • It's important to monitor your child's brushing and make sure they spit after brushing until age 6-7.

  • Skip filling a bottle with sugar water, juice or soft drinks and instead use bottles for milk, water or formula.

  • Your baby should finish their bottle before a nap or bedtime. This allows you to wipe their gums before sleeping.

  • Only use a clean pacifier—don’t dip it in soda, honey, sugar or juice.

  • Teach and encourage your child to use only their cup by their first birthday.

  • Teach and encourage healthy eating choices.

When your child’s first tooth appears, ask to Dr. Brad or Dr. Heidi when is a good time for their first visit. We generally recommend a child's first dental visit and cleaning when they are age 3 (depending how well they can sit in the dental chair).

It's helpful to treat the first dental visit like a well-check appointment with a pediatrician. Familiarizing a child to the dentist while they are young is the key to detecting cavities and we strive to create only positive experiences to prevent dental phobia.

If you have questions or need to make an appointment, please feel free to call our Westerville office at 614-882-2249.

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