You might think that your child can’t develop tooth decay when their teeth have not grown in yet, but they can. Tooth decay in infants and very young children is often referred to as baby bottle tooth decay and
it is easily preventable. Baby bottle tooth decay occurs when sweetened liquids or those with natural sugars--including milk, formula and fruit juice--cling to an infant’s teeth for a long time.
The bacteria in the mouth thrive on this sugar and make acids that attack the teeth. Children that are at risk include those whose pacifiers are frequently dipped in sugar or syrup. And if you give your infant a sugary drink at nap time or nighttime, it is even more harmful, as the flow of saliva decreases during sleep. By talking to your pediatrician, you can easily prevent baby bottle tooth decay from developing.
Tips from Your Pediatrician for Prevention
A few simple steps can help stave off baby bottle tooth decay. In addition to maintaining good oral hygiene at an early age, you can also:
- Wipe your baby’s gums with clean a gauze pad or washcloth after each feeding.
- Begin brushing your child’s teeth (without toothpaste), when his or her first tooth comes in.
- Clean and massage gums in areas without teeth.
- Floss once all the baby teeth have come in.
- Ensure your child is receiving enough fluoride.
- Schedule regular dental visits by your child’s first birthday.
Talk to your pediatrician for more information about how to protect your child from baby bottle tooth decay. Remember, your child’s oral health also affects their general health, so speak with your pediatrician for more information to protect your baby from harm.