Do you bottle-feed your baby or toddler? If so, you may be unaware that certain practices can lead to oral health problems for your child. Don’t worry - many parents at our Gasport dental office are surprised to learn that this is even a concern. But the good news is that there are steps you can take to minimize your child’s chances of developing decay resulting from bottle-feeding.
How does using a bottle lead to tooth decay?
Tooth decay due to bottle-feeding occurs when a young child, usually between one year and three years of age, develops multiple cavities in their primary teeth. Decay results when the child’s teeth are exposed to sugary drinks for long periods of time, resulting in cavities. This is especially common when parents allow their children to fall asleep with a bottle to soothe them.
These cavities are generally found in the top front teeth, but it’s possible for children to develop cavities in any primary teeth.
How can I prevent this from happening to my child?
There are steps you can take to protect your baby’s oral health while bottle-feeding:
Clean Your Baby’s Teeth and Mouth
- If your child is less than a year old, gently clean their teeth and gums with wet gauze or a washcloth.
- Between the ages of 12 and 18 months you can use a soft baby toothbrush with a tiny bit of fluoride-free toothpaste to clean your child’s teeth and gums.
- Once your child turns two, use a very small amount of fluoride toothpaste to clean their teeth. Make sure your child doesn’t ingest the fluoride toothpaste.
- Once all of your child’s teeth have erupted, begin flossing.
Don’t Put Your Child to Sleep with a Bottle
Although giving your child a bottle as you put them to sleep may comfort them, it exposes your baby’s teeth to sugary milk or formula for hours at a time, increasing the likelihood that your child will develop cavities.
It’s also a good idea to establish specific feeding times so that your child is not constantly sucking on a bottle throughout the day. Also, the sooner you can introduce them to a sippy cup instead of a bottle, the better your chances of eliminating the risk of tooth decay.
Keep Pacifiers Clean
If you use a pacifier instead of a bottle to help your child sleep, there are also some things you should keep in mind:
- Use a pacifier recommended by your dentist
- Give your child a freshly cleaned and sanitized pacifier before bed
- Do not dip pacifiers in sweet substances like fruit juice
Schedule a Dental Appointment
Dr. Kaplansky and our team want to help you learn about these potential problems so we can work with you to keep your child’s teeth healthy. We can discuss the proper frequency of visits for your child, but we usually recommend that your child’s first dentist visit occur shortly after their first tooth erupts, but no later than their first birthday.
If you'd like to learn more about baby bottle tooth decay or you’re interested in scheduling a dental appointment for your child, contact our Gasport dental office, and we’ll be happy to schedule a consultation with Dr. Kaplansky.