Baby bottle tooth decay is caused by the frequent and long-term exposure of a child’s teeth to liquids containing sugars, such as: milk, bottle formula, fruit juice, fizzy drinks and other sweetened drinks. The sugars contained within these liquids can pool around your child’s teeth and gums and feed bacteria that cause plaque and this is where tooth decay begins.
How to prevent baby bottle tooth decay?
It is best to never allow your child to fall asleep with a bottle containing milk, formula, juice or any sweetened liquids. Before bed and on a daily basis, clean and massage your baby’s gums to establish healthy teeth and to aid in teething. Wrap moistened gauze or washcloth around your finger and gently massage your child’s gums.
Giving your child sugary drinks at nap time or bedtime is harmful because during sleep saliva decreases, allowing for sugary liquids to linger on your child’s teeth for an extended period of time and over time decay can result, which will cause your child pain and infection and the teeth may need extracting. If teeth become infected or are lost too early due to baby bottle tooth decay, your child may develop poor eating habits, speech problems, crooked teeth and damaged adult teeth. Healthy baby teeth usually result in healthy permanent teeth but unhealthy baby teeth can set your child up for a lifetime of poor dental health.
When your child’s teeth begin to erupt it’s time to remove plaque build up. Brush your child’s teeth with a soft bristled toothbrush using a pea-shaped amount of toothpaste. Be sure to never use fluoride toothpaste as fluoride is a neurotoxin and until your child learns to spit out toothpaste it will be dangerous for your child to swallow fluoridated toothpaste – Click here for an alternative non fluoridated toothpaste.
Changes to your child’s diet will help to prevent baby bottle tooth decay. A series of small changes over a period of time is usually easier and eventually leads to better oral health.
Incorporate these changes:
- Gradually dilute the bottle contents with water over a period of two to three weeks.
- Once that period is over, if you give a child a bottle, fill it with water or give the child a clean pacifier recommended by a dentist. The only safe liquid to put in a bottle to prevent baby bottle tooth decay is water.
- Decrease consumption all forms of natural and processed sugar, especially between meals.
- Children should be weaned from the bottle as soon as they can drink from a cup, usually by their first birthday, but the bottle should not be taken away too soon, since the sucking motion aids in the development of facial muscles, as well as the tongue.
- When old enough introduce whole and organic unprocessed foods and drinks.
- Read labels and inform yourself of the contents of any pre-packaged foods and drinks.
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