Baby Bottle Tooth Decay
Gina DiRenzo-Coffey, M.D.
Boys Town Pediatrics
Baby bottle tooth decay is actually the most common infectious disease or chronic infectious disease of childhood. People don't realize this but cavities are an infectious disease. Baby bottle tooth decay is children who are exposed to milk, juice, other fluid that's have sugar in them for prolonged periods of time. Basically what happens is, the bacteria in your mouth use that sugar to produce acid and the acid decays your teeth.
It can start extremely early. You'll actually, in some kids, start to notice a thinning in the enamel of the teeth, discoloration or an indention. The cavities can be there long before you even notice those. So a lot of times it's there long before you realize it.
If the cavities are small enough then the dentist can fill them. If they're bigger, often times, you'll see the dentist cap the teeth or sometimes they will just pull the front teeth. You will see children with a mouth full of teeth missing at either a very young age, prior to age 5 or 6 when they would naturally lose them, or you'll see them with big, silver capped teeth. Neither one is an ideal situation, for the cosmetic appearance, or how the child feels about themselves.
Your child should really, other than when they're sitting at the table, they should only be drinking water from a cup or a bottle. When they're sitting at the table they can have milk or juice and really a limited amount of juice as it's not necessary in their diet. At a young age, as soon as those first teeth are in, using a baby washcloth to wipe the teeth down after every feeding is important. Parents don't think about it. You use that same wash cloth to wash their face but before you wash their face, stick it in their mouth, wipe off the front and back of their teeth and then wash their face.
Starting at one year of age, you want to start brushing your their teeth. What that really means is, when you or your older children are brushing their teeth, give them their toothbrush, show them what you're doing, explain how to go up and down and back and forth and then go back over the teeth for them. They will not be adequate at that point doing a good job.
Baby Bottle Tooth Decay is a very common childhood problem. Dr. Gina DiRenzo-Coffey, pediatrician with Boys Town Pediatrics, explains what baby bottle tooth decay is, the treatment and how baby bottle tooth decay can be prevented.