SOMETIMES, BEDTIME CAN BE a real struggle, and a bottle might seem like an easy solution. Unfortunately, putting a baby to bed with a bottle of milk or juice does more harm than good, because the easier bedtime comes at the expense of the baby’s oral health. Keeping those baby teeth healthy is crucial so that the adult teeth will have a better chance of coming in straight.
What Is Bottle Rot?
Prolonged exposure to the sugars in milk or juice erodes the enamel on a baby or toddler’s teeth, particularly the central incisors. If you have ever heard of the phrase “baby bottle tooth decay” or the more sinister-sounding “bottle rot,” this is what it refers to, and it is definitely something to avoid. It can also happen with sippy cups and even breastfeeding! If a baby’s gums and teeth are not properly cleaned after feeding, the sugary milk residue left in their mouth increases the risk of tooth decay.
Stopping Bottle Rot Before It Starts
Preventing bottle rot is simple: only use a bottle for the baby’s mealtimes. Do not use a bottle to soothe them or help them fall asleep- a pacifier will be much healthier for their teeth. After the baby reaches six months of age, it is safe to use a bottle of water or a sippy cup of water for toddlers. Not only will it not cause bottle rot, but it will not leave stains if it spills!
After every meal, make sure to clean out milk residue. Once baby teeth start appearing, it is time to start brushing them. Use a soft toothbrush and a dab of toothpaste no larger than a grain of rice. Because babies cannot rinse and spit, make sure to use a non-fluoride toothpaste that is safe to swallow.
Treating Existing Bottle Rot
If your baby is already showing signs of tooth decay, come see us! We will be able to assess the extent of the decay, deal with any cavities, and come up with a plan to prevent future damage. One of the easiest steps you will be able to take at home is to limit their consumption of sugary drinks like juice and soda. You can also bring them to us for fluoride varnish treatments to give their teeth extra protection.
We Can Help
We know that parenting is full of unexpected twists and turns, but we are happy to help you navigate the ones involved in infant and child dental care. Like you, we want your child to have a healthy smile for life! If you have not already brought them in for a checkup, schedule one today!
Thank you for being our valued patients!
Top image by Flickr user Sander van der Wel used under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from the original.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.