Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

Lacee Hogle, RDH

Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

Infants are not born with the bacteria that causes decay. The bacteria is passed from the primary caregiver to the baby typically within the first few months of the baby’s life. This bacteria is known as Streptococcus Mutans. Once the baby has been exposed to this bacteria, the baby is at high risk for cavities. Streptococcus Mutans are able to produce acid with the help of sugar. Unfortunately both breast milk and baby formula contain sugar. After the mouth is exposed to sugar, acid is produced and demineralization of the teeth start to occur. But don’t lose hope, decay can be prevented by following these simple steps.

1. Never allow your child to fall asleep with a bottle containing milk, formula, juice or other sweetened liquids.

2. Brush and floss your baby’s teeth as soon as teeth start to erupt. Do not use fluoridated toothpaste until the child is able to spit, which typically doesn’t occur till the age of three. Many cities have fluoridated water so tap water is a good way to expose your child’s teeth to fluoride. Also, have your dentist or dental hygienist apply a fluoride varnish to your child’s teeth.

3. Do not dip your child’s pacifier in sugar or syrup.

4. Have your child see a dentist sometime between the age of six and twelve months.

5. Encourage your child to drink from a cup by his/her first birthday.

6. Try not to share saliva with the baby through common use of feeding spoons or licking pacifiers.

Although baby teeth are temporary, they are very important. Baby teeth are necessary for chewing, speaking and smiling. They also serve as placeholders for the adult teeth. If teeth are lost prematurely due to baby bottle tooth decay, the child may develop poor eating habits, speech problems, crooked teeth and damaged adult teeth. As you can see, baby teeth are vital to a child’s development. Fortunately, baby bottle tooth decay can easily be prevented just by following those simple steps that are listed above.


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