Preventing Bottle Tooth Decay

Bottles provide a child with a quick, easy way to drink liquids and, in some cases, they can even be used as a source of comfort. Unfortunately, prolonged and frequent exposure to the liquids inside the bottle, whether it is being used purely for drinking or as a comfort source, can cause your child to experience damaging tooth decay known as bottle tooth decay.

Understanding what bottle tooth decay is and how you can prevent it will help you keep your child’s teeth and gums healthy.

Taking a Closer Look at Bottle Tooth Decay

The term ‘bottle tooth decay’ is actually pretty deceptive because it doesn’t just happen to bottle fed babies or toddlers who consume drinks in a bottle. It can happen to children who are breast fed.

Bottle tooth decay occurs when a child comes into frequent and prolonged exposure to sugary liquids. The sugars and acids contained in those liquids can slowly start to eat away at a child’s gums and newly developed teeth.

Damage to the teeth and gums occurs because the sugary, acidic liquid pools in a child’s mouth when they drink. The combination of a warm, dark and damp mouth and the sugary liquid creates the perfect conditions for bacteria to grow. Bacteria growth in the mouth can cause plaque to build up. That plaque can lead to extensive damage to the teeth and gums.

Over time, if the gums and teeth become too damaged it can cause a child to experience extremely pain and discomfort. In many cases, the only way to fix the problems caused by bottle tooth decay would be to extract the teeth. That is why prevention is so important.

Bottle Tooth Decay Prevention Tip #1 – Wipe Gums After Feeding

The best, and most effective, way to prevent bottle tooth decay is to get rid of the sugary or acidic liquids before they have time to pool in the mouth. After you feed your child or your child is done with their bottle, take a washcloth or a gauze pad and gently massage your child’s gum. This will remove the liquids and prevent them from sitting on the gums for any extended period of time.

Bottle Tooth Decay Prevention Tip #2 – Start Brushing Your Child’s Teeth at the Right Time

It is important to start brushing your child’s teeth at the first sign of his or her first tooth. You should be brushing your child’s teeth after each feeding.

When brushing your child’s teeth, it isn’t necessary to use toothpaste at such a young age. Warm water is enough. However, if you feel more comfortable using toothpaste, make sure to use a fluoride-free kind.

In addition to brushing your child’s teeth, you should be massaging the gums where teeth are not present. This will completely remove all liquids from your child’s mouth.

Bottle Tooth Decay Prevention Tip #3 – Never Let a Child Fall Asleep with a Bottle

Some parents let their child suck on a bottle as they fall asleep. Unfortunately, this can cause tooth decay, as the gums and teeth are exposed to massive amounts of sugary or acidic liquids overnight. Don’t let your child fall asleep with a bottle in their mouth.

Bottle Tooth Decay Prevention Tip #4 – Avoid Sugary Foods or Drinks

Try to make dietary changes so your child is not consuming sugary foods or drinks. Some things you can do include:

  • Limit intake of cookies, fruit snacks, and candy
  • Limit intake of juice. If you must give your child juice, dilute it with water.
  • Give your child water instead of soda or juice

Bottle Tooth Decay Prevention Tip #5 – Visit a Pediatric Dentist for Regular Checkups

Scheduling regular appointments with a pediatric dentist can help with the prevention of bottle tooth decay.

A pediatric dentist can do the following:

  • Perform regular checkups to determine teeth are properly growing
  • Apply special sealant coatings to prevent decay
  • Detect tooth decay during the early stages, which eliminates the need for potential tooth extractions
  • Professionally clean teeth and gums

Your child should be going to regular appointments with a pediatric dentist by their first birthday. If it is time for your child’s first appointment or you are looking for a new pediatric dentist, contact Pediatric Dentistry of Central Florida to schedule an appointment with our kind, caring staff.