Even though they are temporary, your child’s baby teeth are important. Tooth decay in infants and toddlers is often referred to as bottle decay. Children need strong, healthy teeth to chew their food, speak and have a nice smile. Their first teeth also help make sure their adult teeth come in the correct position. It’s important to start infants off with good oral care to help protect their teeth for the years to come.
What Causes Bottle Decay?
Bottle Decay most often occurs in the upper front teeth, but other teeth may also be affected.
There are many factors: one common cause is the frequent exposure of the baby’s teeth to drinks that contain sugar. Tooth decay can occur when the baby is put to bed with a bottle. Tooth decay is a disease that can begin with cavity-causing bacteria being passed from the parent to the infant. These bacteria are passed through saliva. When the parent puts an item such as the baby’s feeding spoon in her mouth the bacteria could be passed to the baby.
If your infant or toddler does not receive an adequate amount of Fluoride, they may also have an increased risk for tooth decay. The good news is that decay is preventable.
Preventing Bottle Decay
- Try not to share saliva with the baby .
- When your child’s teeth come in, brush them gently with a child-size toothbrush and a smear of Fluoride toothpaste until the age of 3.
- Brush the teeth with a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste from the ages of 3 to 6.
- Supervise brushing until your child can be relied on to spit and not swallow toothpaste—usually not before he or she is 6 or 7.
- Place only formula, milk or breast milk in bottles. Avoid filling the bottle with liquids such as sugar water, juice or soft drinks.
- Infants should finish their bedtime bottles before going to bed.
- If your child uses a soother, provide one that is clean—never dip it in something sweet!
- Encourage your child to drink from a cup by their first birthday.
- Encourage healthy eating habits.
When your child’s first teeth appear, consider bringing them for their first dental visit. Starting early is the key to a lifetime of good dental health.