If a baby is crying, then it can be soothing to give the baby a bottle and calm down the crying. Even though bottles are often necessary to feed the child, it is important for parents to know that there can be a link between tooth decay and the use of a bottle. This link is common when the child is drinking liquids that have been sweetened.
Why Bottles Increase the Risk of Tooth Decay
What is the problem with the baby drinking from a bottle? When the liquid has sugary compounds, the sugar feeds the bacteria in the mouth. An acid is formed that attaches to the teeth, causing the teeth to break down.
The worst time to give a child a sweet drink in a bottle is right before a nap. It is common for a baby to drink the bottle and then fall asleep. As a result, the sugars from the drink will stay on the surface of the teeth while the child is sleeping.
Another problem that can lead to tooth decay is when the child is given a pacifier that is dipped in a sweetener.
Danger of Childhood Tooth Decay
It is easy to assume that decay in the baby teeth shouldn’t be a concern. Those teeth will fall out eventually, right? Even though the baby teeth will fall out, it is important that the child maintains healthy teeth throughout childhood. These teeth are needed for chewing and talking, helping the child develop important habits that are used throughout life.
Additionally, decayed baby teeth could potentially cause damage to the permanent teeth below the gums. If the decay spreads, then the permanent teeth could become infected and cause serious long-term problems.
Even if the baby doesn’t have teeth yet, the sugary liquid can cause infections to develop on the gums. These infections can be painful, causing the baby to be fussy.
Liquids to Avoid in the Bottle
The worst offenders for tooth decay in young children are sweet drinks in the bottles. Some parents might think that it is ok because they are giving the child fruit juice. But, naturally occurring sweeteners can increase the risk of tooth decay.
Even liquids that don’t taste sweet can have naturally occurring sugars. For example, formula and milk have natural sugars that can stay on the teeth and lead to dental problems.
Preventing Childhood Tooth Decay
After your child drinks from a bottle, give them a drink of water to help rinse their mouth. Also, never let the baby go to sleep with a bottle in their mouth. Stay consistent with regular brushing habits, and schedule regular visits with a dentist for the best long-term results. For more information, talk to our team here at Riverstone Pediatric Dentistry.