Baby Bottle Tooth Decay: What All Parents Should Know
Although temporary, your child's baby teeth are always important to take care of. For example, baby teeth can get cavities just like adult teeth. Cavities in baby teeth can cause a host of problems, so parents should be proactive in caring for the cavities. One of the main sources of cavities in small children's baby teeth actually comes from baby bottles.
Also known as baby bottle tooth decay, these cavities that form from bottle overuse can damage the teeth and prevent adult teeth from properly forming. If you have a baby or young child who still drinks from a bottle, know about the risk of decay and learn what you can do to prevent this from happening.
What Is Baby Bottle Tooth Decay?
Baby bottle tooth decay is a dental disease that affects young children. You generally find this decay on the top front teeth. This decay also often affects other teeth. The decay occurs in this primary area because of consistent formula, juice, or another substance containing sugar on the teeth. The decay is especially prevalent in children who go to bed with a bottle as a soothing mechanism.
When a child goes to sleep with a bottle, parents do not have an opportunity to clean the teeth before the child is asleep. The liquid then sits on the teeth for a long time. Over time, decay can occur on the teeth where the liquid primarily touches.
How Can You Tell If the Teeth Have Decay?
If you notice any spots or discoloration of the teeth and the color does not come off the teeth during brushing, chances are the child has decay. Early indicators are light or white spots on the teeth. As time goes on, the discoloration will become darker brown or black if the decay does not receive attention.
Other symptoms include swollen or bleeding gums, poor breath, and fever from the infection. If any of the more severe symptoms occur, get your child to the dentist as soon as possible. Without treatment, your child could need significant restoration work or could lose the teeth altogether.
How Can You Prevent Baby Bottle Tooth Decay?
The best way to prevent baby bottle tooth decay is to avoid using a bottle for long periods. If your child needs to eat before bedtime, feed and then immediately brush the teeth. If the bottle at bedtime is a source of comfort for your child, consider implementing new soothing techniques so you can take the bottle away.
Another easy way to prevent the decay is good oral hygiene. Brush your child's teeth after every meal and after each bottle. Use a child's toothpaste and a small toothbrush, or you can simply wipe the teeth with a clean wet cloth.
Also, only use bottles for formula or breast milk. If your child drinks milk, juice, or water, offer these liquids in a sippy cup. Not only will a cup prevent the liquid sitting on the teeth, but cup use will also help get your child away from the bottle once they no longer need it for feeding.
How Do You Treat Baby Bottle Tooth Decay?
To treating the decay, this will depend on how severe the problem is. Treatment will also depend on your child's age. The dentist may want to fill the cavities or pull the tooth if the decay is severe. Other dentists may leave the affected teeth alone if the decay is not severe and the tooth will soon fall out. You and your dentist will need to work together to figure out what is best for your child.
Prevention is the best medicine when dealing with decay. If you have concerns your child may have baby bottle tooth decay, please contact us at Airport Road Dental Associates, PC, for an appointment.