Even though baby teeth are temporary, they are still important and should be treated with utmost care. Not only does your child need a healthy smile to chew their food and speak, but starting your infant with good oral care will ensure their adult teeth grow correctly. The last thing you want is for your child to develop baby bottle tooth decay.
Baby bottle tooth decay may also be called infant caries, early childhood caries, or bottle mouth. This is when too much sugar from sweetened fluids causes cavities, or “caries,” to develop on a child’s front teeth. Excess sugar can come from milk, formula, sweetened juice, and snacks.
The good news is that if your child’s cavities are detected early, their chompers can still be saved. In this blog post, our team at Total Kids Dental will explain some of the early symptoms of baby bottle tooth decay and how to prevent your child from developing it.
Even though baby bottle tooth decay can affect any of your child’s teeth, it is more likely to occur in their upper and lower front teeth. Some of the common symptoms to look out for are:
- White or brown spots on the surface of the teeth
- Pain and swelling of the gums and teeth
- Inflamed or bleeding gums
- A fever caused by an infection of the gums or teeth
Are There Treatment Options?
If baby bottle tooth decay is left untreated, it can lead to pain and bad infections that will affect your child’s gum or face. Here are some treatment options to explore if you suspect your child may have cavities:
- Contact a pediatric dentist to discuss the best management options.
- If white or brown spots are detected early, a dentist can apply fluoride to the affected area and suggest diet changes to remineralize their teeth.
- Dental filling material or stainless-steel crowns can cover their decayed teeth.
- If the decay reaches the pulp chamber in the crown of the tooth, pulp therapy or tooth extraction may be considered to maintain the tooth so it is not lost.
Ways to Prevent Baby Bottle Tooth Decay
By being conscious of your child’s bottle-feeding habits and properly cleaning their teeth, it’s possible to prevent them from developing tooth decay. Here are some bottle-feeding and cleaning tips to keep in mind.
- Avoid putting your child to sleep with a bottle of anything except water. Whether it’s juice, milk, or any sweetened drink, the sugar in the liquid can remain on their teeth for hours.
- The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends encouraging your child to drink from a cup instead of a bottle by their first birthday.
- Avoid sharing utensils with your child, so you don’t pass saliva to their mouth. This habit can promote bacterial transmission.
- When your child’s teeth start to come in, brush them gently with a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste until the age of 3.
- If your child uses a pacifier, use one that is clean, and don’t dip it in sugar or honey. You should never give honey to a baby under 12 months of age.
- The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than 6 ounces of juice per day for your child. Babies under six months should not be drinking any juice at all.
- Wipe your infant’s gums with a clean, damp gauze or washcloth to remove food bits or plaque after each feeding.
- Encourage healthy eating habits to help your child refrain from sweets.
Pediatric Dental Services in Phoenix
Starting early with proper oral care is the key to a lifetime of good dental health. Schedule a dental visit for your child as soon as their first tooth appears. Our team at Total Kids Dental is committed to providing the dental care your children deserve! Schedule an appointment with us online or by calling (602) 610-0338.