Your baby’s first tooth generally emerges at about 6 months. As soon as this happens, your child is at risk for tooth decay. One of the most common dental problems for infants and small children is baby bottle tooth decay. When you bring your child to Wasatch Gentle Dental for his or her “well-baby checkup,” our dentist will check for baby bottle tooth decay and other problems, and make recommendations on the best ways to care for your child’s teeth. Please call us at 801-262-6661 to schedule your appointment with Dr. Andrew Smith in Murray, Utah, and learn more about baby bottle tooth decay.
Baby bottle tooth decay, also known as infant caries (cavities) occurs in infants and toddlers, and is most prevalent in the upper front teeth. This condition occurs as a result of acid-producing bacteria in the oral cavity. This bacteria is usually the result of frequent exposure to sweetened liquids. When a sweetened liquid – such as breast milk, baby formula, juice, and sweetened water – is used as a naptime or bedtime drink, the sugars in the liquid remain in the mouth for an extended period of time, providing a food source for oral bacteria. Harmful bacteria can also be transmitted from a parent’s mouth to their child’s if they share a spoon or clean the infant’s pacifier in their mouth.
You can help prevent baby bottle tooth decay by:
- Not sharing saliva. Rinse pacifiers and toys in clean water, rather than cleaning them with your mouth, and do not share spoons.
- Gently clean your child’s gums with a clean washcloth after each feeding.
- Use an appropriate, ADA-approved toothbrush and toothpaste to brush teeth. We recommend using fluoride-free toothpaste for children younger than 2 years of age.
- When you child is old enough to spit out toothpaste, use only a pea-sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste to brush his or her teeth.
- Do not place sugary drinks in baby bottle or sippy cups. After 12 months of age, encourage children to use regular cups.
- Do not allow your child to take a bottle to bed. If the child insists or will not settle down without the bottle, fill it only with water.
- Do not dip pacifiers in sweet liquids, such as honey.
- Review your child’s eating habits. Limit or eliminate sugar-filled snacks, and encourage a healthy, nutritious diet.
- Clean your child’s teeth for them until age 7. By this time, they will have developed their motor skills enough to reach and brush all areas of their mouth.
- Ask the dentist about your child’s fluoride levels.
- Make and keep all regular dental appointments.
If you have questions or concerns about baby bottle tooth decay, please call our office to speak with our dental professionals.