Oral health care should begin as soon as your child starts teething.  Most children begin teething around six months old.  It is important for parents to be aware of the painful eruption of these young teeth and how to properly care for them. Here is some information about baby bottle tooth decay and how to avoid it:  

What is baby bottle tooth decay?

Parents often give children bottles containing natural sugars, such as milk or juice, to drink during rest.  Over time, the acid formed by the oral bacteria in the child's mouth as a byproduct of their digestion of the sugar rots the teeth.  This type of decay is known as baby bottle tooth decay.

Why is it more likely to occur during rest periods?

Giving the baby milk or juice during sleep is harmful because saliva flow decreases during sleep.  The effect of this reduced flow is that the natural sugars cling on to the baby's teeth for a long time and when the bacteria in the mouth act on these sugars, the decaying process begins.  The decay in baby teeth typically occurs on the front teeth but may also affect the other teeth in the mouth.  The risks of tooth decay increase if a toddler does not receive sufficient amounts of fluoride.

What are the effects of baby bottle toot decay?

It is important to prevent such corrosion from affecting the baby's teeth since the teeth are essential for chewing, speaking and even smiling.  Poor teeth can also decrease self-esteem in young school aged children.  In addition, if the teeth are already infected and left untreated, it can result in pain and in severe cases, removal of the infected teeth.  

How can it be prevented?

Some of the methods recommended include cleaning the teeth and massaging the gums in areas without teeth.  Wiping the baby's teeth and gums with a clean, damp washcloth after each meal is an excellent way of ensuring good oral health.  Once the child has developed all or most of their baby teeth, parents should teach children and assist in brushing teeth appropriately and flossing.

Mouth Healthy advises that parents use only a smear of fluoride toothpaste for their toddlers until the age of three.  For children aged between three and six, a pea-sized amount is adequate.  It is also critical that the parent supervises the brushing to ensure the child does not swallow the toothpaste.  Moreover, dentists offer special sealant coatings that can help prevent tooth decay in children, so parents should schedule regular dental visits as early as possible. 

To learn more about baby bottle decay, schedule an appointment with a clinic, such as the Havendale Dental Office PA.