Could baby bottle tooth decay ruin your child's smile? Your Mercer Island, WA, dentist, Dr. Ken McNabb of Mercer Park Dentistry, offers family dentistry treatments for baby bottle tooth decay and can provide suggestions that will reduce your child's risk of developing the condition.
How baby bottle tooth decay happens
It's only natural to want to help your baby fall asleep more easily. Unfortunately, putting your baby to bed with a bottle can cause cavities in their upper front teeth. Commonly called "baby bottle tooth decay," the problem can also occur if you frequently offer a bottle when your child is fussy.
When your baby falls asleep with a bottle, a small amount of milk covers their teeth, even when they aren't actively sucking. Unfortunately, the sugars in milk or juice can increase the risk that your child will develop cavities. Although most people associate tooth decay with adults and older children, cavities can also affect infants.
Your baby's cavity risk may also increase if you place a pacifier in your mouth to clean it and then give it to your baby, or share spoons or other utensils with your child.
Baby bottle tooth decay can cause pain and may lead to premature loss of your baby's first set of teeth. These teeth act as placeholders for permanent teeth. If your child loses primary teeth too early, other teeth may shift to close the gap. If that happens, there may not be enough room for the permanent teeth to push through the gums.
Avoiding baby bottle tooth decay
You can prevent baby bottle tooth decay by:
- Changing Your Habits: Don't put your baby to bed with a bottle, use a bottle as a pacifier, put your child's pacifier in your mouth, or share utensils with your child.
- Cleaning Your Child's Gums and Teeth: Removing plaque on the gums with a moist washcloth or piece of gauze protects erupting teeth from decay. Begin brushing your child's teeth as soon as the first tooth appears. Use a rice-sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste and a soft child's toothbrush to brush all sides of the tooth.
- Visiting the Dentist: Schedule your child's first visit to the Mercer Island, WA, family dentistry office within six months after the first tooth appears or by age 1 at the latest. If your child does develop baby bottle tooth decay, prompt treatment will help them avoid tooth loss.
Are you concerned about your baby's teeth? Dr. McNabb's family dentistry practice in Mercer Island, WA, treats patients of all ages. Call Mercer Park Dentistry at (206) 232-6200 to schedule an appointment for your child.