Tooth decay isn't one of the things many people consider when they're giving their child a bottle. The truth is there's definitely a correlation between baby bottles and the onset of early tooth deterioration. But there's more to it than that. So don't go throwing all your child's bottles out just yet.
Bottles Aren't the Direct Cause of Child Tooth Decay
It's not the baby bottle that causes the tooth decay. A process occurs in the mouth that causes tooth decay.
This process occurs for everybody, including children. Even if your child only has a single tooth, that tooth has a susceptibility to decay.
How Baby Bottles Contribute to Tooth Decay
When your child has a bottle in their mouth, they are essentially keeping exposing the plaque on their teeth to a constant stream of sugar. The sugar comes from the milk, formula, or juice in the bottle.
Usually, your child's saliva does the work of cleaning off their teeth, getting rid of the sugar, and removing the acid. When there's constant contact from sugar, your child's saliva cannot keep up. Over time, this will lead to tooth decay.
Types of Tooth Decay Your Child Can Develop
Your child's teeth can have all the same potential problems as your own. There are some specific categories of tooth decays for children.
Nursing or baby bottle syndrome—This form of tooth decay occurs when you let your child sleep with a bottle. While sleep, children produce less saliva. In addition, the nipple of the bottle will prevent the saliva they do produce from reaching certain areas, such as the front teeth. The liquid from the bottle will form little pools on and behind the teeth. This will allow the plaque on their teeth to stay bathed in sugar for hours at a time.
Early childhood caries (ECC)—ECC occurs when a child has one or more cases of severe tooth deterioration. It's a disease, and can quickly become a very serious issue for a child. Many use these terms interchangeably. ECC can definitely start as baby bottle syndrome. Baby bottle syndrome can accelerate ECC. In the end, they're all terms to describe child tooth decay of all kinds.
Doing What You Can to Combat Baby Bottle Tooth Decay
You don't have to quit bottles and find an alternative. You just have to make sure you pay attention to how you let your child drink from the bottle.
You want to give your child's teeth the best chance. Remember that baby teeth are important, whether they have one tooth or a full set.
Take your child to see a pediatric dentist to make sure their teeth are in good health. Clinics like Dino Kids DDS can also give you more information on how you can keep your child's teeth free of tooth decay.
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