Baby Bottle Tooth Decay Causes, Symptoms and Preventive methods
Baby bottle tooth decay also called as nursing bottle caries or early childhood caries. Tooth decay in infants and very young children is often referred to as baby bottle tooth decay. This dental problem develops in infants especially infants that are put to bed with a bottle containing a sweet liquid. Baby bottle tooth decay is commonly seen in upper front teeth, other teeth may also be affected. Baby teeth serve as place holders for the permanent teeth. Decay in the baby teeth can affect the child’s chewing, speaking and smiling. The breast milk or formula that comforts and nourishes your baby can also cause severe tooth decay.
Baby teeth are also called as primary teeth or deciduous teeth. Teething usually begins around 6 months of age. In majority of babies first tooth will erupt between 4 and 7 months. All the set of primary teeth will be seen by his/her third birthday. Don’t neglect the baby teeth because healthy baby teeth will lead to healthy permanent teeth. Decayed primary teeth can disturb the permanent teeth eruption which results in crooked or crowded permanent teeth.
What are the Causes of baby bottle tooth decay?
Bottles containing milk, formula, juices, and sugar water continuously bathe an infant’s mouth with sugar. The bacteria such as streptococcus mutans, lactobacillus use sugar and produce acids. These acids destroy the enamel of baby teeth. Sugars, bacteria and time are the key factors for the cavity formation.
- Decay happens when sweetened liquids or those with natural sugars like milk, formula and fruit juice cling to infants teeth for a long time. Bacterial reaction on these produces acids. Acids demineralize the enamel leads to tooth decay.
- Babies whose pacifiers are dipped in sugar or sugar syrup
- High sugar content drinks at night time increases the risk of decay because saliva production decreases during sleeping
How to Prevent Baby Bottle Tooth Decay?
- Wipe the baby’s gums with a clean gauze pad or wash cloth after each feeding. Though the baby has no teeth cleaning the gum pads is necessary
- Clean and massage gums
- If your child sleeps with a bottle, break the habit now and avoid the risk of decay. Gradually diluting the bottle contents with water over 2 to 3 weeks after that period, fill the bottle only with water
- Begin brushing your child’s teeth when his\her first tooth come in
- Finger tooth brushes are also available for proper cleaning of your child oral cavity
- Don’t fill the bottles with sugar water or soft drinks. Bottles are for milk, infant formula, water, electrolyte containing solutions when the child has diarrhea
- Never allow your child to fall asleep with a bottle containing anything but water
- Don’t dip the pacifier in a sweet syrup
- Reduce the sugar in your child’s diet especially between meals
- Flossing should be started once all the baby teeth have come in
- Make sure your child is getting enough fluoride which prevents the decay
- Schedule regular dental visits by your child’s first birthday
- Encourage your child to drink from a cup by his\her first birthday. Wean them off the bottle by age 12 to 14 months
- Ask your dentist for topical fluoride application
- It is your responsibility to keep your baby’s teeth clean in the earlier years, later teach them brushing techniques.
What are the Symptoms of Baby Bottle Tooth Decay?
Chalky white spots appear on the tooth surface. This is the early sign of tooth decay. If you notice the white spots on the teeth immediately consult your dentist to stop the further progression of the decay. Severe decay appears in dark brown in color. If a tooth is decayed and left untreated pain and infection can occur. Baby bottle tooth decay can leads to pain, infection, crowded permanent teeth and pain while eating. Baby’s smile, chewing and speaking also affected by the baby bottle tooth decay
What is the Treatment plan for Baby Bottle Tooth Decay?
Your dentist will give you the best treatment plan because the type of treatment depends on severity of the decay and the age of child. White spots on the tooth surface can be treated by fluoride treatment or placing fluoride varnish can be used to remineralize the tooth. Severe decay can be treated by pulpectomy, restoration process or tooth extraction.