What is Baby Bottle Tooth Decay?
Baby bottle tooth decay, also known as early childhood caries (ECC), bottle mouth, or infant caries occurs when a child’s teeth come into contact too often with sugary snacks and drinks. This includes milk and infant formula. Children need to brush their teeth immediately after ingesting sugar, or else the sugar stays coated on the teeth and progresses the potential of ECC. The earlier good oral hygiene habits are instilled in children, the less likely they will develop problems like baby bottle tooth decay, and the more likely they will maintain these good habits through adulthood.
Complications that arise from baby bottle tooth decay may be as severe as your child not developing speech properly. Speech development is directly affected by the nasty infections and chronic pain that comes with baby bottle tooth decay. Children are constantly taking in information and learning, and for that to be stunted by oral health problems is a serious problem. Prevention is the ultimate key to stop ECC dead in its tracks, but it’s also important to recognize the signs. The sooner you recognize the problem, the sooner your child’s dentist can get to work reversing it.
Healthy Baby Teeth Are Important!
Even though baby teeth eventually fall out, it is still important they are taken care of before that happens. Healthy baby teeth:
- Allow children to talk more clearly
- Assist with easier chewing and eating
- Help form the shape of a child’s face
- Hold spaces for adult teeth to come in
Prevent the problem from ever happening! Here are several easy steps you can take to prevent baby bottle tooth decay:
- Take good care of your oral health before your baby is even born
- Wipe your infant’s gums after a feeding
- Wean your child off the pacifier
- Do not use a sippy cup or bottle as a pacifier
- Teach your child how to drink from a cup at six months of age
- Never put your child to bed with a bottle or food
- Brush your child’s teeth as soon as they start growing in
- Floss your child’s teeth after they’ve all grown in
- Take your child to regular dentist check-ups
- Check if your water at home is fluoridated
- Encourage healthy eating habits
- -Limit your child’s sugar intake
Signs to Look For
The earliest signs of ECC are white spots on the surface of your child’s baby teeth or the gum line. Tooth sensitivity and pain come with these spots as well. More severe signs of baby bottle tooth decay include brown or black spots on the teeth and gums, bleeding and swollen gums, a fever, and bad breath, These are the advanced stages of ECC. Don’t wait for the advanced stages of baby bottle tooth decay to develop. When you notice the early signs of white spots on the teeth and gums, take your child in to see their dentist immediately.
This newsletter/website is not intended to replace the services of a doctor. It does not constitute a doctor-patient relationship. Information in this newsletter/website is for informational purposes only & is not a substitute for professional advice. Please do not use the information contained herein for diagnosing or treating any condition.