Combatting Baby Bottle Tooth Decay: Essential Information for Parents

The skilled and experienced oral specialist Rahul Chopra DDS and their dedicated dental team understand the importance of baby teeth. They strive to preserve their health and vitality. Babies and children are more susceptible to tooth decay due to unhealthy eating habits and poor oral hygiene. In infants, prolonged nursing or bottle use makes them particularly vulnerable to baby bottle tooth decay. Read on to learn about the causes, symptoms, treatment, and prevention of this condition. 

Baby bottle tooth decay, also known as infant caries, early childhood caries, and nursing bottle caries, is an aggressive form of tooth decay affecting mostly infants, and toddlers. It usually occurs in the front teeth, or incisors. 

What causes baby bottle tooth decay?

Baby bottle tooth decay occurs when baby teeth are exposed to excessive sugar. Disease-causing bacteria in the mouth feed on this sugar, producing harmful acids. These acids attack the teeth and enamel, causing decay. Babies who are breastfed to sleep or bottle-fed with milk for extended periods, especially at night, are at a higher risk of developing this condition, also known as nursing bottle caries. 

What are the symptoms of baby bottle tooth decay?

You can expect the following signs and symptoms in baby bottle tooth decay:

  • White specks or spots on the front teeth 
  • Pain and discomfort in the mouth 
  • Increased tooth sensitivity
  • Prominent cavities 
  • Tooth discoloration (dark brown or black)
  • Swelling around the affected teeth
  • Bad breath (halitosis)
  • Increased fussiness and irritation
  • Tooth erosion 
  • Early tooth loss 

How is baby bottle tooth decay treated?

Baby bottle tooth decay can be reversed and effectively treated through the following:

  • Fluoride treatment
  • Dental fillings 
  • Pulptomy (removal of coronal pulp)
  • Pulpectomy (removal of radicular pulp)
  • Extraction for severe cases with space maintainers

Can you prevent baby bottle tooth decay?

It is possible to prevent infant or baby bottle tooth decay through the following preventive measures:

  • Don’t put your baby to sleep with a milk bottle
  • Avoid giving them excess fruit juices or sugary items like candy or lollipop
  • Clean their gums with wet gauze or cotton after every feed
  • Brush their teeth once they erupt, twice daily, using a soft-bristled toothbrush and low-dose fluoride toothpaste
  • Transition to a sippy cup as soon as possible
  • Encourage healthy eating habits in them
  • Hydrate them well to increase saliva production to flush out the toxins 
  • Take your baby to the dentist once in six months for checkups 

To lower the risk of baby bottle tooth decay, it’s crucial to minimize sugar consumption, promote nutritious foods, ensure adequate hydration, and adhere to proper brushing routines. 

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