Early Intervention: Addressing Baby Bottle Tooth Decay for Lifelong Dental Health

The skilled and highly experienced oral specialists at the dental clinic in Lansing, MI, and their team understand the importance of baby teeth and strive to safeguard their integrity and vitality. Babies and children are more prone to tooth decay due to unhealthy eating habits, and poor oral hygiene. However, in babies, it’s more prevalent due to prolonged nursing or bottle use! This is known as baby bottle tooth decay. Read on to learn the causes, symptoms, treatment, and prevention of baby bottle tooth decay. 

An introduction to baby bottle tooth decay

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 develops as a result of exposing the baby teeth to excess sugar. Disease-causing bacteria in the mouth thrive on this sugar, multiplying and releasing harmful acids. These acids and toxins attack the teeth and enamel, leading to decay. Babies who are breastfed to sleep or bottle-fed with milk for prolonged periods, especially at night, are at a higher risk of developing this condition, also known as nursing bottle caries.

What are the associated symptoms?

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

How can you prevent it?

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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