Many children use a bottle well after their first teeth have emerged. Though most children will start solid food around 6 months of age, they are still dependent on formula or breast milk to get all their nutrients for quite a while longer.
There is no denying that getting vitamins from the bottle is an essential part of many children’s development. However, parents should be aware of a phenomenon commonly referred to as baby bottle tooth decay, or early childhood caries. Taking the proper precautions can ensure your child’s teeth will be safe.
What Is Bottle Tooth Decay?
If a child’s teeth are exposed to sugary drinks for an extended period of time, there is a concern that the teeth will be damaged. Formula and breast milk are generally considered to be safe; the main concern is if there is a fruit juice or soft drink in the bottle. The sugars in these drinks can sit on the teeth, enabling cavities to start to form. Our Charlotte dentists often see this issue when children are put to bed with a bottle that contains juice.
Another way that infant’s and toddler’s teeth could suffer damage is if saliva is passed from the parent to the child through the bottle or a pacifier. A parent may lick a pacifier or a feeding spoon in an effort to clean it. However, this can introduce cavity-causing bacteria into the child’s mouth.
Prevent Baby Bottle Tooth Decay
Based on the above causes of baby bottle tooth decay, some of the best ways to prevent the issue are to avoid sharing saliva and to keep juice and sugary drinks out of infants’ bottles. The American Dental Association also offers the following tips:
- Be sure to brush a child’s teeth as soon as they emerge.
- Do not put infants to sleep with a bottle.
- Try to encourage a child to drink from a cup starting around age 1.
- Emphasize healthy eating habits at home.
The ADA recommends using a toothpaste with fluoride even with infants. Only a small smear the size of a grain of rice should be used until the child is 3 years old. If you have questions regarding the type of toothpaste or how to properly care for your child’s teeth, please do not hesitate to ask us.
Children can begin seeing a dentist as soon as their first tooth emerges. This enables us to share with parents the best ways to care for baby teeth and prevent issues from developing. Call us today at (704) 540-4252 to schedule an appointment today.
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