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Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

What Is It?

The rapid-spreading, severe decay of teeth in infants and toddlers caused by the sugars in milk and juice, called Baby Bottle Tooth Decay, is the most common form of early dental disease.

It usually begins around the first birthday with either chalky white spots or brownish pits on the front teeth and progresses rapidly, developing infection within a year or two.

If left untreated, Baby Bottle Tooth Decay can deteriorate teeth so badly that they cannot be restored and have to be extracted. It can also cause severe dental infections (abscesses) that can spread to other parts of the body and cause high fever, swelling, and severe pain.

What Causes It?

The main cause of Baby Bottle Tooth Decay is putting infants to bed with milk or juice in a bottle. In toddlers, it can be caused by giving juice or milk in sippy cups throughout the day and night.

Another major cause of decay in young children is giving milk or juice after brushing at night. It is best to brush just before your child goes to bed and avoid giving anything other than water after you brush.

Pacifiers dipped in honey or other sugary liquids may also cause severe decay.

How Can I Prevent It?

It is easy to prevent Baby Bottle Tooth Decay by following these simple, but important, tips:

  • Never put your baby to bed with a bottle filled with milk or juice. The sugars and acids in the liquid eat away at the teeth and cause severe cavities, beginning with the front teeth.
  • Never dip your child’s pacifier in honey or any other sugary substances. This will only cause germs to grow in the mouth and decay of the teeth.
  • Do Not allow your toddler to “liquid-graze” – or walk around with a sippy cup filled with juice or milk all day. Only give juice or milk with meals. If your child is thirsty, give him or her water.
  • Do Not give your child milk or juice after brushing at night. If you do, you should brush again.
  • Do Not give infants or toddlers soda, tea or coffee. The sugars and acids in these drinks are very harmful to baby teeth – which are much softer than adult teeth.
  • Do brush your child’s teeth every morning after breakfast and every night just before he or she goes to bed. If any teeth are touching, floss every night.
  • Do encourage your toddler to drink water throughout the day – it is healthier and better for your teeth than high-sugar juices, sodas and tea.
  • Do water down juices to make them less harmful.
  • Do stop bottle feeding by the first birthday.
  • Do encourage your child to use a regular cup in place of a sippy cup as soon as he or she is ready.

Is Your Child Having a Difficult Time Giving Up the Milk Bottle At Night?

Here are a few tips that may help you make the transition:

  • Remember that crying is normal. After a few nights your baby will sleep peacefully.
  • Replace it with water. If you absolutely must, you can do this gradually – replacing milk with water a little at a time.
  • Try a few of these alternatives to bottles at bed time:
  • Rocking
  • Reading
  • Singing
  • Clean pacifier
  • Blanket
  • Stuffed Toy
  • Mobile

If you suspect that your child may have the beginnings of Baby Bottle Tooth Decay, please do not delay in setting up an appointment. Every day the decay progresses only makes it worse for your child!

Contact us at (336)887-9277 or via our Web site.

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