Can a Bottle at Bedtime Cause Cavities?
Caring for your child’s baby’s teeth starts even before the first pearly white erupts. It’s essential to take good care of your little one’s gums and teeth to prevent decay, gum disease, and other oral health concerns. One of the most common problems we see in our young patient’s teeth is a condition caused by bedtime bottles known as early childhood caries or baby bottle tooth decay. Visit your trusted team at Smiles Explorers Pediatric Dentistry to allow us to evaluate your child’s oral health and to lay the groundwork for a lifetime of healthy smiles.
The Importance of Baby Teeth
Even though baby teeth eventually fall out, keeping them healthy is important to your child’s development. Your little one’s tiny chompers help with chewing and eating, play a significant role in speech development, and help form the shape of your child’s face. They also help maintain the space needed for the adult teeth to come in correctly. That helps prevent crooked permanent teeth or a crowded mouth, which would require orthodontic treatments down the road.
Preventing tooth decay and cavities helps avoid unnecessary pain and discomfort and the need for costly dental care. It also helps prevent damage to the permanent teeth developing behind the scenes and infections that can affect your child’s overall health. It’s important to start infants off with proper oral care to protect their teeth and ensure long-term healthy smiles.
What Causes Baby Bottle Tooth Decay?
Baby bottle tooth decay usually develops in the upper front teeth, but other teeth may also be affected. When bottles containing sugary drinks or formula are given at naptime or bedtime, the sugar stays on the teeth. Cavity-causing bacteria in the mouth feast on the sugar and produce acids that eat away at the enamel resulting in tooth decay.
When your child is awake, the saliva in the mouth helps wash some sugars away. During sleep, the saliva flow slows down, and your baby won’t swallow as much, leaving the teeth more vulnerable to tooth decay.
How Can You Prevent Baby Bottle Tooth Decay?
Even before your child’s teeth come in, it’s important to start cleaning the gums with clean, damp gauze. When the pearly whites erupt, start brushing them using a child-sized toothbrush and a smear of fluoride, no larger than a grain of rice. Once your child can spit, around age three, start using a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. Make sure you supervise brushing time until you can count on your child not to swallow the toothpaste, around age 6.
Place only formula, breast milk, or water in your baby’s bottle. Refrain from presenting sugary drinks, sodas, or juices in the bottle. It’s best to avoid having your baby fall asleep while feeding. If your child is fussy, use a pacifier or a bottle of water. When your little one turns one, it’s time to put the bottle away and move to a sippy cup.
Don’t forget to schedule your child’s first visit to Smile Explorers Pediatric Dentistry as soon as your baby’s first tooth appears. Starting preventive care right from the start is key to a lifetime of healthy smiles.
Quality Pediatric Preventive Dentistry Services in Glendale, AZ
Contact Smile Explorers Pediatric Dentistry to learn more about keeping tooth decay and cavities at bay. Our team is a proponent of prevention as the first line of defense against cavities and other dental conditions. We look forward to welcoming you and your child into our family. Call us and schedule your appointment today!