Baby bottle tooth decay refers to presence of cavities on baby teeth caused by prolonged milk bottle use. If not treated properly, it can cause teeth loosening.
You should know how important baby teeth are for chewing and speech development; they also affect the alignment of permanent teeth. A lack of attention to your baby’s teeth, coupled with baby bottle decay may cause poor oral health and even low self-esteem.
The good news is that your baby’s teeth can be saved if the problem is detected early.
What Causes Baby Booth Tooth Decay?
As mentioned earlier, baby bottle tooth decay is caused by prolonged bottle use and the long-term exposure of your baby’s teeth to sweet liquids, including formula milk and fruit juices. Natural sugars from these drinks tend to cling to your baby’s teeth and feed bacteria in the mouth. They produce acids that may damage their teeth.
How Do You Know If Your Baby Has Tooth Decay?
While any teeth may be affected, baby bottle tooth decay commonly occurs in the front teeth.
Check for the following signs and symptoms:
- White, brown, or black spots on teeth surfaces
- Tooth cavities or holes in the teeth
- Swollen gums
- Bleeding gums
- Fever due to tooth or gum infection
- Bad breath
Treatment Options for Baby Bottle Tooth Decay
Baby bottle tooth decay treatment may vary depending on age and the severity of the condition.
White spots on teeth surfaces are early signs of baby bottle decay. During this stage, a simple fluoride treatment can be enough to re-mineralize and rebuild the tooth enamel. Your baby’s dentist may also recommend fluoride supplements.
It is also wise to make changes to your baby’s diet to keep the decay from progressing. You should:
- Limit acid foods
- Avoid fruit juices, especially citrus
- Increase water intake
Be sure to coordinate these changes with your baby’s pediatrician and dentist. Overall health and nutritional needs are of the utmost importance.
If decay is detected at later stages, you’ll see brown or black spots in the teeth, or worse: tooth loss. Fluoride treatments may no longer be helpful at this level. You need to see a dentist for extensive restoration.
If your baby’s tooth is extensively decayed, a stainless-steel crown may be recommended. After removing the decay, the dentist will fit and cement a prefabricated crown over the tooth. It will provide full protection of the tooth, which is more effective than fillings. Crowns are durable appliances that do not require follow-up treatments.
If the damage has already reached the tooth pulp, a pulp therapy is in order before placing the crown. This is a common procedure, even for young permanent teeth.
Can You Prevent Baby Bottle Tooth Decay?
The best approach to baby bottle decay is prevention! Luckily, you can do this in several ways:
- Always wipe your baby’s gums and teeth with a wet clean cloth or gauze after every bottle-feed. This will help remove excess sugar on the teeth and prevent dental plaque or cavities.
- Brushing is highly recommended as soon as your baby’s first tooth erupts. This usually occurs around six months. While there are tubes of toothpastes safe for babies now, they are not required at this age. Brushing with water is good enough.
- You may start using a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste when all of your baby’s teeth have already erupted. Expect this after their second birthday.
- Children between the ages of two and three may start flossing to make sure no food particles are trapped in between teeth.
- Do not leave a bottle of sweetened drinks in your baby’s mouth when they are asleep.
- Encourage your baby to drink from a cup as early as six months old.
- Start weaning your baby from the bottle at a year old
- Visit a dentist regularly for check-ups. Schedule your first appointment after the first birthday.
Make sure your child learns good oral hygiene at an early age. Bad habits could follow into adolescence and adulthood. If you are looking for professionals who can take good care of your baby’s dental needs, look for an office that offers holistic dentistry in Durango, CO like Sunrise Dentistry. Call us at (970) 247-3303 now!