Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Help Prevent Baby Bottle Tooth Decay


Even though they are temporary, your child's baby teeth are important, and are still susceptible to cavities.

Tooth decay in infants and toddlers is often referred to as Baby Bottle Tooth Decay, or Early Childhood Caries. Children need strong, healthy teeth to chew their food, speak and have a good-looking smile. Their first teeth also help make sure their adult teeth come in correctly. It’s important to start infants off with good oral care to help protect their teeth for decades to come.

Baby teeth are only temporary. But they're still susceptible to the pain and discomfort of tooth decay -- often dubbed "baby bottle tooth decay."

What causes Baby Bottle Tooth Decay?

Baby Bottle Tooth Decay most often occurs in the upper front teeth, but other teeth may also be affected.

There are many factors which can cause tooth decay. One common cause is the frequent, prolonged exposure of the baby’s teeth to drinks that contain sugar. Tooth decay can occur when the baby is put to bed with a bottle, or when a bottle is used as a pacifier for a fussy baby.

Tooth decay is a disease that can begin with cavity-causing bacteria being passed from the mother (or primary caregiver) to the infant. These bacteria are passed through the saliva. When the mother puts the baby’s feeding spoon in her mouth, or cleans a pacifier in her mouth, the bacteria can be passed to the baby.

Preventing Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

The American Dental Association suggests how to prevent the problem and keep your child's mouth healthier:

  • Don't share utensils with your child or put a pacifier in your mouth, which could transfer germs to your child.
  • Until the teeth start coming in, wipe baby's gums with a damp cloth.
  • Once the teeth start coming in, brush with a child-size toothbrush and water. Do not use fluoride toothpaste until age 2, or as recommended by the pediatrician.
  • Use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste between ages 2 and 6.
  • Carefully monitor your child when brushing teeth until about age 6 or 7, until you're sure the child won't swallow toothpaste.
  • Never send your child to bed with a bottle.
  • Make sure your child's pacifier is always clean, and never dip it in honey or sugar water.
  • Promote healthy eating habits and encourage your child to drink from a cup by the first birthday.

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