Tooth decay (called early childhood caries by dentists) is the most common chronic infectious disease that children suffer.
Tooth decay may also be called nursing caries or baby bottle tooth decay. Baby bottle tooth decay is a scary sounding name for a little known dental condition that can have long-term negative effects on children.
Which is why A Plus Dental would like to take this opportunity to introduce you to baby bottle tooth decay, discuss its symptoms, and go over what can be done to prevent it.
What Is Baby Bottle Tooth Decay?
Baby bottle tooth decay is essentially tooth decay in baby teeth due to poor bottle feeding habits. Baby bottle tooth decay arises as early 1 year of age. It begins as a white chalky area around the gum line of a tooth. Gradually, it spreads to cover the entire tooth surface.
Later it may discolor, giving the tooth a yellow to brown appearance. Finally, the tooth may chip off or completely break off. The first teeth to be affected are generally the upper front baby teeth or primary maxillary anterior incisors. Gradually, the decay reaches to other teeth, eventually leading to a mouth full of decayed baby teeth.
But these are temporary teeth, so why worry about them?
Why Healthy Baby Teeth Are Important
Baby teeth are important because:
- They make eating and chewing easier, improving nutritional health.
- They help form the shape of the child’s face.
- They make clear diction possible.
- They maintain spaces for the permanent (adult) teeth to come in. If they are lost prematurely, poorly spaced, misaligned, and non-erupted teeth can follow.
Tooth decay causes:
- Tooth pain
- Poor appetite
- Sleep disruption
- Oral infections
- Lost school days
- Need for tooth extractions
- Need for treatments under general anesthesia
- Dental disease that continues into adulthood
- Affects overall health later in life, especially height and weight
- Affected speech and nutrition in later life
How Does Baby Bottle Tooth Decay Start?
Acid-producing bacteria in the mouth cause tooth decay. Initially, these bacteria are often transmitted from a mother or father to their baby through saliva exchange. Each time parents share a spoon with a baby or clean a pacifier with their mouths, their bacteria reaches the baby’s mouth.
The most common culprit in baby bottle tooth decay however, is over-exposure to sugary liquids including breast milk, milk, formula, juice, and sweetened water.
When sweetened liquids are used as a way to get a baby to sleep, they represent an increased risk as they stay in the mouth for longer periods. Bacteria in the mouth feed on the sugar around teeth and excrete acids that erode tooth enamel, leading to cavities and decay.
Symptoms of Baby Bottle Tooth Decay
White spots on a tooth’s surface are the earliest symptom of baby bottle tooth decay. At this early stage it can often be dealt with easily.
However, if decay is spotted at advanced stages, simple treatments no longer suffice. Symptoms of advanced decay include:
- Brown or black spots on the teeth
- Bleeding or swollen gums
- Fever, swelling or irritability, which could indicate infection
- Bad breath
If your child shows any of these symptoms, it’s critical to visit us at A Plus Dental as soon as possible. If baby bottle tooth decay spreads, it can require extensive restoration treatments, tooth loss, and the need for orthodontic treatment later.
Stopping Bottle Rot Before It Starts
Preventing bottle rot is not complicated: baby bottles should only be used for feeding, not to soothe children or help them fall asleep when they aren’t tired, or are fussy. In those cases, a pacifier is called for.
After every meal, make sure to clean out solid and liquid residue by swabbing gums with a damp cloth. Once baby teeth come in, it’s time to brush them using a baby’s toothbrush and a bit of toothpaste no larger than a grain of rice. Because babies can’t rinse or spit, to use a non-fluoride toothpaste that is safe to swallow (and try to clean it out before your baby can swallow).
If You Have Questions, Visit Us!
Schedule an appointment with us at A Plus Dental if your child is experiencing tooth pain, sensitivity, or you see any evidence of baby bottle tooth rot. We offer treatment plans that works for your child or infant’s needs, and helps them achieve a stunning smile for a lifetime.
It All Adds Up at A Plus Dental!
At A Plus Dental our goal is to give our Campbelltown area patients, from infants to seniors, with caring, relaxed treatments in a calm and welcoming environment. When you choose A Plus Dental, you take the next step towards a beautiful, healthy smile with teeth that feel great in your mouth!!
With have over 30 years of experience combined and treat each of our patients with the utmost care and respect.
Child Dental Benefits Schedule
Bulk Bill for children who are eligible for MEDICARE CHILD DENTAL BENEFIT SCHEDULE
Up to $1000 worth of dental treatments over two years
Learn more about Child Dental Benefits Schedule
Call (02) 4627 3833 or visit us at Suite 3/300 Queen Street in Campbelltown.