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Sleep With Bottles of Milk Can Lead to Decay?

Your child’s baby milk teeth are important, even though they are not permanent but are still susceptible to cavities.

Almost all the mothers feed their children at night, when they are asleep. This feeding habit might lead to nursing bottle caries in children. Tooth decay in infants and toddlers is referred to as Baby Bottle Tooth Decay or Nursing bottle tooth decay.

Children need strong, healthy teeth to chew their food, to speak and to have a good bright smile. Their first milk teeth also help make sure their permanent teeth come in correctly. They also serve as placeholders for the adult permanent teeth.

Baby bottle tooth decay is a unique pattern of dental decay due to improper feeding habits. It is caused by the frequent and prolonged exposure of a baby’s teeth to liquids containing sugars such as breast-fed infants who have prolonged feeding habits or with children whose pacifiers are frequently dipped in honey, sugar or syrup.

These liquids may include milk, formula, fruit juice, sodas and other sweetened drinks. The sugars in these liquids pool around the baby’s teeth and gums, feeding the bacteria that cause plaque and increase the chance of decay while the infant is sleeping. Every time a child consumes a sugary liquid, acid attacks the teeth and gums.

Tooth decay is a disease that can begin with cavity-causing bacteria being passed from the mother (or primary caregiver) to the infant. These bacteria are passed through the saliva. For example, bacteria is spread by sharing saliva on spoons or cups, testing foods before feeding them to babies, and cleaning off a pacifier in the parent’s or caregiver’s mouth.

Parents are being counseled routinely about child’s eating habits and diet pattern in dental clinics in Delhi.

When sweetened liquids or those with natural sugars cling to an infant’s teeth for a long time, bacteria in the mouth thrives on this sugar and makes acid that attack the teeth. After numerous acid attacks, tooth decay can begin.

Children whose pacifiers are frequently dipped in sugar or syrup are at risk. Tooth decay can occur when the baby is put to bed with a bottle, never allow children to fall asleep with a bottle containing milk, formula, juice or other sweetened liquids.

Giving an infant or baby a sugary drink at nap time or nighttime is particularly harmful because the flow of saliva decreases during sleep.

Although baby bottle tooth decay most often occurs in the upper front tooth, but other teeth may also be affected.

If baby bottle tooth decay is left untreated, pain and infection can result. Severely decayed teeth may need to be removed.

If baby teeth are lost too early, the teeth that are left may move and not leave any room for adult teeth to come in. As the result, your child may develop poor eating habits, speech problems, crooked teeth or malaligned teeth, and damaged permanent teeth. In addition, the chances that permanent teeth will end up being crooked are greatly increased.

Dentists in India are counseling parents about the implications of premature loss of baby teeth due to poor feeding or eating habits.

It’s important to start infants and babies off with good oral care to help protect their natural teeth for decades to come.

Preventing Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

Few simple steps can help stave off baby bottle tooth decay which includes implementing good oral hygiene at an early age.

  • After each feeding, wipe the baby’s gums with a clean gauze pad or washcloth.
  • Begin brushing your child’s teeth gently using a soft baby toothbrush, without toothpaste, when your child’s first tooth comes in. If you choose to use toothpaste, use a fluoride-free one.
  • Clean and massage gums in areas without teeth once a day to help establish healthy teeth and to aid in teething.
  • Brush your child’s teeth 2 times (12 to 36 months)-) per day for 2 minutes. Use a smear (pea-sized amount) of fluoride toothpaste. The best times to brush are after breakfast and before bed.
  • Make sure your child is getting enough fluoride, which helps lessen cavities
  • Avoid filling the bottle with liquids such as sugar water, juice or soft drinks.
  • Place only formula, milk or breast milk in bottles.
  • Never allow your child to fall asleep with a bottle containing anything but water. Infants should finish their bedtime and nap time bottles before going to bed.
  • Never give your child a pacifier dipped in anything sweet. This not only exposes your child’s teeth to sugars but can also put your child at risk for ear infections and choking.
  • Limit the amount of sweet or sticky foods your child eats, such as candy, gummies, cookies etc. Sugar is in foods like crackers and chips too. These foods are especially bad if your child snacks on them a lot.
  • Reduce the sugar in your child’s diet, especially between meals. Serve juice only during meals or not at all.
  • Encourage healthy eating habits like gradually diluting the bottle contents with water over a period of two to three weeks.
  • Children should be weaned from the bottle as soon as they can drink from a cup, but the bottle should not be taken away too soon, since the sucking motion aids in the development of facial muscles, as well as the tongue.
  • Schedule regular dental visits. Dentists in dental clinics in India also offer special sealant coatings, which can help prevent tooth decay in children. Parents should first bring their child to the dentist when the child is between 6 and 12 months old.

It’s never too late to break bad habits. If your child drinks sweetened liquids from the bottle and/or sleeps with a bottle, break the habit now and cut the risk of baby bottle tooth decay.

Tooth decay can be prevented. Talk with your dentist if you see any sign of decay in your child’s teeth or if you have questions about your child’s teeth. Dentists in Delhi are making sure that parents understand the importance of their child’s milk teeth.

Remember that healthy baby teeth will lead to healthy permanent teeth. With the right care, your child can grow up to have healthy teeth for a lifetime of smiles.

Posted by- Dr Shriya