While primary (or baby) teeth will eventually fall out and be replaced with permanent teeth, it is still important to keep them in good health. Our pediatric dentists offer treatments for baby bottle tooth decay and other childhood dental problems to ensure that your child’s teeth and smile remain healthy. Please call us at 410-828-5699 to learn more about baby bottle tooth decay in Timonium, Maryland, and to make your child’s appointment with Drs. Bowden, Bowden, and Hernandez.
Baby teeth perform several important functions, including helping children to chew food correctly, maintaining space if the jaw for adult teeth, aiding in speech enunciation, and preventing the tongue from being incorrectly positioned in the mouth. Healthy baby teeth lead to healthy permanent teeth, as baby teeth lost due to decay and trauma can lead to impacted adult teeth and years of orthodontic treatment. One of the most serious problems for your child’s teeth is tooth decay. Children are at risk for tooth decay as soon as their first primary tooth emerges, which is usually at about 6 months. For this reason, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that your child visit the dentist for his or her first checkup when they are about 1 year old.
Baby bottle tooth decay refers to cavities, or caries, in early childhood. While baby bottle tooth decay may affect any of your child’s teeth, it is most common in the front teeth of the upper jaw. Baby bottle decay can be prevented through a good oral hygiene routine at home and regular checkups with our pediatric dentists. If, however, your child does have baby bottle tooth decay, and his or her condition become severe, we may need to extract the affected tooth and provide your child with a space maintainer to prevent the remaining teeth from shifting.
Baby bottle tooth decay is caused by acid-producing bacteria. Often, these bacteria multiply as a result of frequent exposure to sweetened liquids, such as breast milk, baby formula, juice, and sweetened water. When sweetened liquids are used as a naptime or nighttime drink, they remain in the mouth for an extended amount of time, feeding the bacteria, which them produce harmful acids that attack the tooth enamel and wear it away, causing tooth decay and cavities.
Baby bottle tooth decay is preventable. Our pediatric dentists recommend the following guidelines to help keep your child’s smile free of tooth decay:
- Do not exchange saliva with your child. Harmful bacteria can often be transmitted when you share a spoon with your child, or if you attempt to clean a pacifier with your mouth. Please rinse pacifiers and toys in clean water, and use clean spoons.
- Clean your child’s gums after each feeding with a clean washcloth.
- Use an appropriate toothbrush and an ADA-approved toothpaste when your child’s teeth begin to emerge. We recommend fluoride-free toothpaste for children under 2 years of age.
- When brushing your child’s teeth, use a pea-sized amount of ADA-approved fluoridated toothpaste.
- Do not place sugary drinks in baby bottles or sippy cups. Fill these types of containers with water, breast milk, or formula.
- Encourage your child to use a regular cup rather than a sippy cup when he or she reaches 12 months of age.
- Do not dip pacifiers in sweet liquids, such as honey.
- Ensure that your child has a healthy, nutritious diet. Eliminate or greatly reduce sugar-filled snacks and treats.
- Do not allow your child to take a liquid-filled bottle to bed. If you child insists on doing so, fill the bottle with water, and not with a sugary liquid.
- Clean your child’s teeth for them until he or she reaches the age of 7. Before this age, children often have difficulty reaching certain areas of their mouth.
- Ask our pediatric dentists to review your child’s fluoride levels. Fluoride works to protect tooth enamel, helping protect and strengthen teeth against cavities. Careful examination will help determine whether your child needs fluoride supplements. Alternatively, too much fluoride can also cause problems. Our dentists will be able to determine the appropriate amount of fluoride for your child.
For more information on baby bottle tooth decay, and to schedule your child’s appointment with our pediatric dentists, please contact our practice today.