When Your Body Attacks Your Teeth: Combating Autoimmune Dental Problems

Keeping Your Infant Safe From Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

Every parent wants their infant to develop healthy teeth and avoid periodontal diseases that would affect their oral well-being. Unfortunately, one of the most common causes of tooth rot and sensitivity in infants -- baby bottle tooth decay-- is often caused by poor feeding habits used by parents. While providing a bottle to your infant at bedtime can comfort them, it can also lead to early childhood caries that can cost your child their primary teeth. Read on to learn how a feeding bottle could harm your child's teeth and ways to help keep baby bottle tooth decay at bay.

How baby bottle tooth decay develops

The problem starts when a baby is exposed to sugary liquids such as formula, milk and juices for extended periods of time, often during bedtime. As liquid from the feeding bottle pools in the mouth, it comes into contact with the surface of the teeth. This gives bacteria time to convert sugar in the liquid to acid, which can gradually attack the enamel coating on your child's teeth, with the front top teeth often being the most vulnerable to cavities.

Allowing your child to breastfeed for long periods of time or regularly putting them in bed with a bottle filled with sugary fluids is how the problem starts.

Common symptoms that your child may be developing baby bottle tooth decay include sensitivity to cold drinks and white spots on the teeth accompanied by discomfort and difficulty sleeping. It is important that you spot these signs and take your child to a pediatric dentist early on so as to prevent the deterioration of the primary teeth.

Prevention tips

With baby bottle tooth decay, prevention is often the best medicine. Be sure to limit the use of a feeding bottle to meal times only. If your child needs a bottle for comfort during bedtime, fill it with water instead of sugary drinks. You should also avoid the use of pacifiers dipped in sugary substances during bedtime.

When feeding your child milk or fruit juice, try to get them to use a cup instead of a bottle, as this reduces the amount of time the liquid remains in contact with their fragile baby teeth.

Dental hygiene from an early age is also essential to preventing early childhood caries. Begin by wiping your child's gums with a damp cloth while they are younger and gradually introduce tooth brushing as their first teeth erupt. Start using fluoride toothpaste when they are a few years old, as this helps strengthen their teeth and makes them less vulnerable to tooth decay.