How to Prevent Baby Bottle Tooth Decay
|June 30, 2010||Posted by healthsmartmom under Healthy Kids|
Babies are cute when they smile at you with their toothless grin. But it’s not so cute when their precious baby teeth start to show signs of decay. Baby bottle tooth decay is becoming a growing problem among infants.
It’s starts out innocently enough – just a quick and easy way to catch a few minutes sleep. Simply give your baby a bottle in bed to lull them to sleep as you tiptoe out of the room to catch some more sleep.
However, if your plan works and baby falls asleep with the bottle in their mouth, you have the beginnings of baby bottle tooth decay.
What is Baby Bottle Tooth Decay?
When a baby falls asleep with a bottle of milk, formula or juice in their mouth, the milk sugars leak out of the bottle into the mouth where they pool. Baby bottle tooth decay isn’t an issue when a baby is awake (or anyone for that matter), because saliva in the mouth washes away sugars from the foods that they eat which also washes the teeth. When the milk pools in baby’s mouth, it causes cavities to form from the bacteria and carbohydrates left in the mouth. The acid that results from the breakdown of these carbohydrates starts to wear away the protective enamel on the teeth.
This process begins to occur at night when baby has a bottle in their mouth (or even breastmilk if you and baby fall asleep while nursing.) Since baby is sleeping, there is no saliva being produced to wash away the bacteria. Over time, the teeth can become riddled with cavities that give them a concave shape and turn the tooth stumps black. Even though these are baby teeth and will fall out – they are supposed to hang around for some time until baby’s permanent teeth come in. No parent wants their child to have broken and deformed teeth, much less black spots in their child’s mouth. While you do need to get rest you also don’t want your child to suffer negatively from baby bottle tooth decay.
Tips for Preventing Baby Bottle Tooth Decay
Here are a few solutions that you can try to combat the problem in the first place.
- Avoid giving your child sugary drinks in their bottle at night such as milk, formula or juice. Milk may be more filling but if you must give your baby a bottle, try filling a small bottle with water. If chewing on the nipple helps to soothe them, it won’t be long before they fall asleep. Depending on where you live, tap water or nursery water is fine in small quantities.
- Try a pacifier? You can use it just at night when you baby is having trouble settling down. Choose one that resembles the shape of a bottle nipple so baby will more readily accept it. And, resist the urge to coat it with milk or juice. All this will do is have your child craving more sweet stuff each time they are wakeful. Even a small amount of sugar settling in the mouth can begin the process of tooth decay.
- Try baby gum and tooth wipes. If you slip up or are so desperate for sleep that you need to resort to milk in a bottle, make sure that you check on your baby and remove the bottle shortly after they fall asleep. Roll them to their side and use a spit rag to gently (without waking them!) wipe out any milk that is pooled in their mouths and cheeks. Follow up with a quick wipe with a tooth and gum wipe to help wash away any bacteria or acid that is already working on the teeth. Then tiptoe back to bed – you got baby to sleep and didn’t sacrifice their dental health in the process!