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UK Against Fluoridation

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

What Is Baby Bottle Tooth Decay?

It doesn’t seem possible, but even infants and very young children can have tooth decay, also known as baby bottle tooth decay.  It occurs when sweetened liquids, or those with natural sugars, stay on an infant’s teeth for a long time.  Milk, formula, and fruit juice are common causes of baby bottle tooth decay.  Bacteria in the mouth flourish from the sugar, and make acids that harm teeth.
Children given sugary drinks at nap time or bedtime are particularly at risk due to the decrease of saliva flow during sleep.  Even though baby teeth are temporary, it’s extremely important to keep them healthy - they serve several important functions.  Baby teeth are necessary for chewing, speaking, and smiling, and they serve as placeholders for adult teeth.  If decay is left untreated, it can lead to pain and infection, and even removal of teeth.  Children with infected or lost baby teeth can develop poor eating habits, speech problems, crooked teeth, and even damaged permanent (adult) teeth.
There are ways to avoid baby bottle tooth decay.  Establish good oral hygiene for your child at an early age.  Wipe your baby’s gums with a clean washcloth after a feeding.  Brush the teeth with a soft toothbrush, without toothpaste, when the first tooth comes in, and start flossing once all baby teeth are in.  Be sure your child is getting enough fluoride, which will help prevent cavities.
Don’t fill your baby’s bottles with sugary drinks.  Bottles should only be used for milk, water, and formula.  If your child falls asleep with a bottle at night, make sure it only contains water, and never dip a pacifier in anything sweet.

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