Baby bottle tooth decay is a problem that both infants and toddlers can develop. It is often caused by children going to sleep with juice or milk bottles in their mouths. Since severe tooth decay can compromise a child's ability to speak or eat, it is important to take steps to prevent it. Here are a few ways to do just this.
Change Your Child's Bottle Habits
Certain bottle habits can greatly increase the risk of your child developing baby bottle tooth decay. Because of this, you will want to avoid these bad habits. Below are some ways to do this:
- Don't give your child a bottle of milk or juice at bedtime. If your child falls asleep with a milk or juice bottle, the sugar from these liquids will linger on their teeth, leading to decay. If you usually do give your child a milk bottle before bed, you may want to gradually dilute their milk with water until the bottle is filled with just water. This process may take a couple weeks.
- Give them a milk or juice bottle only at mealtime. This is important because eating will produce more saliva in your child's mouth. This saliva will help cleanse your child's mouth, helping to protect it from the sugar in their drink. Also, avoid filling their bottle with soda, even during meals.
- Encourage your child to learn to use a sippy cup. Nine months is a good age in which to start this transition. If your child is reluctant to part with their bottle, you may encourage them to help you pick out their sippy cup. Sometimes a child will be more open to using a sippy cup if it has a fun design on it.
Beyond the above suggestions, there are many other ways to prevent baby bottle tooth decay. Below are some ideas:
- Don't be afraid of fluoride toothpaste: Fluoride can be very helpful in the fight against tooth decay since it helps to remineralize teeth. For this reason, you shouldn't be discouraged from brushing your child's teeth with fluoride toothpaste. Just make sure to use a small amount of it (a smear is a good amount for children under three).
- Avoid dipping a pacifier in honey or sugar water. Though some parents do this to calm their children, this habit will only exacerbate tooth problems. Instead, find alternative ways to help your child relax. You can find some ideas for infants here.
From reading this article, you now know of strategies for keeping your child's teeth in their best shape! For more advice, take your child to a pediatric dentist.