We always warn you adults of tooth decay. However, even babies are susceptible to tooth decay in their developing years. The most common form of tooth decay in babies is, “Baby Bottle Tooth Decay.” Odd name, but the cause and name are identical. Sweetened liquids are left in babies’ mouths for long periods of time, most often nap and bedtime.
Wholesome sweet liquids such as milk or fruit juice unknowingly sit on the teeth. Feeding off these sugars are acid producing natural bacteria. The acids then attack the teeth within 20 minutes after feeding. Enamel layers on the tooth ward off decay, but once breached, the real trouble begins.
How long liquids sit in the mouth also plays a major role in tooth decay. More sugar and time equal more bacteria, creating more acid, speeding tooth decay.
“So what? These are just their baby teeth and they will be replaced.” Baby teeth are just as important as adult teeth for the same reasons adult teeth are important: ability to chew food, speak clearly, and have a healthy, attractive smile. Baby teeth also affect how the adult teeth will develop. They are placeholders for the adult teeth, creating the space for permanent teeth to develop. Neighboring teeth often try to fill the gap, resulting in crooked, misaligned tooth development.
The best and simplest practice is prevention.
- Never let your baby or young child fall asleep with a bottle of sweetened liquid.
- Wipe your baby's gums with a clean, damp cloth after every feeding. As the teeth appear, gently brush them making sure they do not swallow any toothpaste.
- Start your child flossing early. By age two, most teeth appear and are safe for gentle flossing.
- Start regular dental visits by the first birthday. And as always, if you have emergencies or questions between visits we are here for you.
- In preventing Baby Bottle Tooth Decay, you increase the chances of a healthy attractive smile as an adult.