This may come as a shock to some parents, but babies can get tooth decay just like adults. Baby bottle tooth decay is a problem that can affect babies starting as soon as their first teeth erupt. Knowing what baby bottle tooth decay is, how it can affect your baby, and what you can do to prevent it is an important part of establishing good dental hygiene for your baby.
What is baby bottle tooth decay?
Baby bottle tooth decay is a type of tooth decay that is said to happen when babies are allowed to fall asleep sucking a bottle filled with juice or milk. The juice or milk stays on the teeth and in the gums, promoting tooth decay. Baby bottle tooth decay can also occur in babies who consume sugary foods and beverages throughout the day, not just at bed time. For example, some parents will dip the end of their baby's pacifier in something sweet to get their child to suck on the pacifier. This too can promote tooth decay which can also be called "baby bottle tooth decay," even if it was not caused by sending the baby to bed with a bottle.
What can you do to prevent baby bottle tooth decay?
The most obvious way to prevent this type of tooth decay is to avoid feeding your baby sugary drinks and sugary foods, especially before bed time. In addition, you can also help prevent this problem by doing the following:
- Brush your baby's teeth on a daily basis, starting as soon as the first teeth have emerged. Use a baby-sized tooth brush and toothpaste for babies.
- Start taking your baby to the pediatric dentist. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends taking your baby to the dentist for the first time when the first teeth appear, or when your baby turns one year old (whichever comes first). The pediatric dentist will be able to look for early signs of tooth decay.
- Ask your child's dentist about fluoride supplements. If you live in an area without fluoridated water, your child's dentist may recommend fluoride supplements for your baby. Fluoride helps prevent tooth decay and thus can help protect your baby's teeth.
For more information about this subject and other subjects relating to your baby's oral health, speak to a pediatric dentist like those at the Kenai Dental Clinic. He or she will be able to answer your questions and help you take care of your child's teeth.