You’re probably asking yourself what in the world we’re talking about when we say “baby bottle decay”. However if you’re new parents, you probably have already heard about this. It is something that parents should guard against to ensure good oral health for their children.
We know that putting a baby down with a bottle helps the child fall asleep. And we’re not going to say you shouldn’t do that. We understand – it works. So it’s not about the bottle itself. The problem occurs with what is in the bottle.
Baby bottle decay can occur if you put an infant or older child down for a nap with a bottle of juice, formula, or milk. The child drinks the contents and falls asleep. We all know that’s a “feature”. But here’s the “bug”. Because of the contents, those new little teeth are suddenly under attack.
Here’s what happens:
The sugary liquids in the bottle cling to baby’s teeth, providing food for bacteria that live in the mouth. The bacteria produce acids that can trigger tooth decay. Left unchecked, dental disease can adversely affect a child’s growth and learning, and can even affect speech.
That sounds pretty awful, for sure. But if you think about it, it’s no different than what happens in anyone of any age’s mouth if they leave sugary liquids in their mouth to attack their teeth.
Again we want to stress that we’re not saying that in order to avoid this, the child must give up their bottle. Instead, the solution is pretty simple. We recommend that you change the contents of the bottle instead.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the contents of the bottle be changed over to water at bed time. That may take a little getting used too for the child, but if you begin it early enough, it will likely become an accepted part of the child’s bed time or nap time routine. The water is neutral and won’t attack the teeth, baby has his bottle and is content and all is right in the crib, not to mention a great start on your child’s oral health care.
We hope this has been helpful and raised awareness of a potential problem that, as you see, is pretty easily avoided.
In our next blog post in this series, we’ll discuss some ideas on how to control that sippy cup habit.