Bottle Tooth Decay is early threat to Baby's Teeth
Make sure your baby's developing
teeth are not at risk from nursing or bottle tooth decay
Decay in children’s baby teeth is on the rise. The number of 2-
to 5-year-olds with such decay increased from 24 to 28 percent from
1988 to 2004, according to the Centers for Disease Control and
“Parents need more education on prevention of tooth decay in
their young children, such as not putting the child to bed while
nursing or taking a bottle or sippy cup, and limiting sweets and
juices only to mealtime,” said Carolyn Wilson, D.D.S., chief of
Dental Services at Children’s.
Steps you can take
There are plenty of steps parents can take to ensure their
children develop healthy teeth. First, before your baby goes to
sleep at the end of the day, make sure his developing teeth are not
at risk from nursing or bottle tooth decay.
This happens when juice or milk stays in the mouth while a baby
sleeps, especially when sucking on a bottle all night. The sugars in
the mouth are metabolized by bacteria, which produce acid that eats
away the tooth enamel, causing cavities. Cavities must be repaired
before they extend into the pulp of the tooth, requiring either a
root canal or the tooth to be pulled.
When your baby is awake, saliva bathes the teeth, removing much
of the sugar from foods and keeping the bacteria in check. But while
your baby sleeps, saliva production lessens, and the decay rate
Even before the first teeth appear, wipe milk or juice off your
baby’s gums after every feeding. When teeth do appear, brush them
with a soft toothbrush after the last feeding before bed and again
in the morning.
Experts recommend that by the time babies are a year old, they
should drink from a cup. If the bottle helps a baby settle down,
fill it with plain water. Never put a baby to bed with a bottle of
milk, juice or other sugary drink.
The American Dental Association makes these
- Begin to clean your baby’s mouth during the first few days
after birth. Use a soft washcloth or damp gauze and gently wipe
along the gum.
- When teeth begin to appear, the cloth can still be useful,
or use a soft-bristled toothbrush without toothpaste.
- Talk to your pediatrician about dental care for your baby,
and take your child in for the first dental visit when his first
tooth comes in, usually by the age of 1. Practitioners can start
your child on a lasting program of dental care