You may be tempted to leave your child in her crib with her favorite bottle overnight: She stays full and happy, and you stay happy because you don’t have to get up in the middle of the night to feed her. However, you may actually be causing her tooth to decay in the process.
Just as eating sugary treats and failing to brush before bedtime can lead to cavities in your own mouth, allowing sweetened liquids to remain on your baby’s teeth for long periods can eventually lead to “baby bottle tooth decay.” Bacteria in your child’s mouth live on the sugars found in fruit juice or even formula, and they produce acids that break down her teeth. In addition, because saliva flows less when your child is asleep, the bacteria tend to be more active.
You can also cause tooth decay problems in your infant if you often dip her pacifier in syrup or sugar. Sweet drinks before naptime are also destructive to your baby’s teeth. You may not think that her baby teeth are critical—after all, they will eventually fall out—but they are necessary for her to chew and speak efficiently. In addition, losing baby teeth prematurely can cause her permanent teeth to grow in crooked. Therefore, caring for them is of the utmost importance.
To prevent tooth decay in your infant, follow these steps:
- Avoid giving your baby sugary drinks before naps and at night.
- Use a clean washcloth or a gum brush to clean your baby’s gums.
- Brush your child’s tooth when it first comes in; no toothpaste is needed.
- Be sure that your child drinks fluoridated water (fluoride is often found in tap water), as this helps to prevent decay.
- Schedule your child’s first dental appointment with a pediatric dentist when she turns a year old.
Tooth decay can prevent your baby’s primary teeth from being healthy, which can have long-term effects. However, health baby teeth will increase your child’s chances of having healthy permanent teeth. To schedule your child for her first pediatric dentist appointment or to learn more about how to care for your infant’s teeth, contact Fort Worth Children’s Dentistry at 817-569-6633 today.