How Baby Bottles can cause Tooth Decay

baby bottle causes tooth decay

baby bottle causes tooth decaySan Francisco, Marin, and Oakland, CA

As a new parent, you want to make sure your baby is cared for and developing physically and mentally. It might surprise you, then, to know that even babies are vulnerable to developing cavities—even before they make the transition from bottle-feeding to solid foods. How does this happen? The culprit is a phenomenon known as baby bottle decay, and it happens when a baby or toddler is allowed to have milk or juice from a bottle at times other than during meals. Your family dentists in San Francisco at Glen Park Dental wants to make you aware of baby bottle decay, how to prevent it, and how we can help your child maintain good oral health.

Acid fuels the development of cavities

If your child drinks too much milk and juice too often, the sugars in these drinks feed the bacteria that already exist in your mouth. The cavity-causing bacteria excrete acids that wear away at tooth enamel. This puts the child are risk of tooth decay. Saliva is a natural means of defense for your mouth, rinsing away food particles and sugars while neutralizing acids. However, saliva production slows when you’re asleep, making it especially hazardous for your child’s oral health to send him or her to bed with a bottle of milk or juice. That’s not the only risk. Your baby also can be exposed to oral bacteria when sharing food and drinks with others. Eliminate this risk by not sharing the same utensils or drinking containers with your child.

How can you prevent baby bottle decay?

Maintain a diligent regimen of oral hygiene. This routine should start as soon as the first primary teeth erupt from the gums. Rather than use a toothbrush, you can clean your baby’s teeth and mouth by using a clean, wet washcloth to gently wipe their gums clean. As your child’s baby teeth erupt, you can switch to a small toothbrush. Once your child has become a toddler, you can begin teaching him or her to brush their teeth on their own. Make sure to avoid fluoridated toothpaste until your child is old enough to be able to spit. 

A good rule of thumb is to only provide milk or juice at mealtimes, encouraging water as the beverage of choice at the other times of the day. When you do serve juice, limit total consumption to 4 ounces per day and dilute the juice to 50 percent concentration by adding water, although we recommend skipping juice entirely, as it provides no nutritional value. Never send your child to bed with a bottle or sippy cup containing milk or juice; provide water at bedtime instead.

Family Dentistry in the Bay Area

At Glen Park Dental, we offer state-of-the-art professional oral care to patients of any age—from infants to senior citizens. We strive to make every visit a pleasant experience for your child so that he or she associates the dentist’s office with a place where good things happen. Our program of pediatric dental services includes cleanings, exams, X-rays preventive measures such as sealants, and early orthodontic intervention. Schedule your child’s initial consultation today by calling (415) 585-1500 if you’re in the areas of Marin, Oakland, and San Francisco, California.