February 3, 2010

Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

Baby bottle tooth decay (also known as bottle rot) is a name for tooth decay in babies. Babies are at risk for tooth decay from the time their teeth start to grow in (six months of age, more or less).

While all of the baby teeth are at risk for decay, the ones most at risk are the front teeth. It is vital to take steps to ward off baby bottle tooth decay. Dental care when kids are young can stop future dental problems.

The Causes of Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

There are two main causes of baby bottle tooth decay. One is sugar. When baby teeth are routinely exposed to drinks such as milk formula and fruit juice, the sugars in these drinks hold on to the teeth and feed bacteria in plaque. Frequent contact with the acids in these bacteria can cause baby teeth to decay.

A second main cause is bacteria that are passed from an adult to the child. This occurs if an adult places the spoon with which she feeds the baby, or the baby’s pacifier, into her own mouth. Decay can also result when a baby is breastfed for longer than average.

How to Prevent Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

There are ways to prevent baby bottle tooth decay. Be sure to clean your baby’s teeth each time you feed her. Lightly rub the gums with a soft, damp cloth or gauze to get rid of plaque and food.

Also, do not fill a baby’s bottle with liquids other than milk or formula. See that the bottle is finished before you put the baby down for a nap or to bed.

From ages two to six, brush your child’s teeth with a small dab of fluoride toothpaste. To limit the transfer of bacteria from adult to baby, be sure to practice good oral hygiene, as this lowers bacteria levels. Adults should also avoid oral contact with pacifiers, spoons, and other items that meet their baby’s teeth.