Understanding & Avoiding Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

Every parent wants their child to get the best start in life, so you do the best you can to ensure they're healthy, happy, and properly looked after. A big part of this, of course, is taking them to a doctor regularly and whenever there's a problem, and as soon as their teeth start growing, making sure they see the dentist often.

When it comes to dental care, it's not just about the check-ups, either. Teaching your child to brush their teeth and making sure they're doing a thorough job helps keep the mouth healthy. But there are other things you should be aware of, too. In terms of limiting damage to those new little teeth, it's not just what your child is consuming—it's also how it's consumed.

Baby bottle tooth decay

The problem known as baby bottle tooth decay, as you can probably guess, is linked to children drinking from a bottle with a teat. Because this type of bottle is comforting to a small child, they'll often keep it in their mouth for prolonged periods, and drink more than usual. When this is sugary drinks, they can cling to the child's teeth and cause significant decay.

Some parents try to avoid it by switching out any artificial drinks like squash or pop, thinking it's only those with added sugars that can do damage. However, anything other than water will typically include some sugar, including fruit juice and milk—even breast milk from the mother. Watering down drinks reduces the amount of sugar, but doesn't eliminate decay.

Preventing the problem

Luckily, it's not difficult to prevent baby bottle tooth decay, and mostly involves changing habits and avoiding certain risks. Don't give your baby a bottle to hold and drink from throughout the day unless it's filled with plain water. Any other liquids may have sugars that will build up. And wean your child off the baby bottle as soon as possible to limit the risk of extended drinking.

Make sure you're cleaning your baby's teeth from the moment the first one appears. You can do this by using a wet cloth to wipe the teeth down after feeding.

Some parents like to dip a pacifier in honey or other sweet substances, but this should be avoided. So should breastfeeding during the baby's sleep. Although some babies seem to need this for comfort, you can give them a pacifier or a baby bottle of water instead. 

To learn more about your baby's dental health, contact a local family dentistry.