6 Tips for Avoiding Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

Good oral hygiene starts the day a baby is born, long before you see the early stages of their first teeth. Starting your child with strong oral hygiene habits takes discipline and an early start. Even though baby teeth eventually fall out, helping your children understand the importance and steps to good oral health will last their whole life and help avoid serious dental issues in the future.

Aside from just helping your children form good habits though, another reason to take care of your child’s teeth is to avoid tooth decay. Not only will this help your child avoid pain, it will save you money. Tooth decay in an infants’ baby teeth is generally known as “baby bottle tooth decay”. The most common cause of baby bottle decay in baby teeth is exposure to sugary drinks over extended periods of time. How do you help your children avoid tooth decay in their baby teeth? These steps will help protect your children’s teeth:

  1. Finish Bottles Completely Before Bedtime or Nap: Do not allow your child fall asleep with their bottle. If they are already in the habit of doing this, stop it or start giving them water. This habit is dangerous because it promotes the growth of bacteria which can seriously damage baby teeth, even as they are still beginning to erupt through the gums.
  2. Don’t Exchange Saliva: Avoid sharing utensils or licking things that will come into contact with your child’s mouth. This is because the transfer of bacteria and foreign enzymes can disrupt a sensitive infant digestive tract. The Platinum Dental Care dentist in Mapleton often says to his patients with children, “Whatever dish-washing you save by sharing utensils, avoid sharing spit for teeth’s sake.” While your child’s mouth and immune system are still developing, let each member of the family have their own utensils.
  3. Give Clean Pacifiers: Never dip your child’s pacifier in honey or sugar to get your child to take it. Dipping pacifiers in sugar creates an oral environment that fosters infection and promotes tooth decay. Instead, give freshly washed pacifiers to protect your child’s teeth.
  4. Begin Brushing Early: Soft bristle child’s tooth brushes are perfect for newly emerging teeth. If your child can tie their own shoes, they possess the dexterity to brush their teeth on their own teeth. Even if they can handle the toothbrush, however, make sure to supervise your child, however, to ensure they are cleaning each tooth (and not swallowing the toothpaste). See the toothbrush technique perfect for children here.
  5. Provide Healthy Food Choices: From day one your child needs guidance towards healthy food choices. Provide your children with fruits, vegetables, and other healthy foods, encouraging them to chew their food thoroughly before swallowing. Crisp fruits and veggies provide necessary nutrients for healthy oral development and help clean the teeth as you chew.
  6. Use Bottles for Formula Only: Juices, soda, and other sugar-rich drinks should never go in a baby bottle. Sippy cups should be used for only one year to decrease the negative effects of extended exposure to sugary liquids. Our Platinum Dental Care dentist in Lehi counsels his patients to avoid bad habits with the sippy cup because it will directly target the teeth

Additionally, here are more tips for toddlers & young children as recommended by American Association for Pediatric Dentistry:

“Encourage children to drink from a cup by their first birthday; a training (sippy) cup is only meant to serve as a transitional tool from helping kids adjust from the bottle to cup.”

“Only put water in sippy cups, except during mealtime. By filling the sippy cup with juice, or even milk, and allowing a child to drink from it throughout the day, bathes the child’s teeth in cavity causing bacteria.”

“Parents should dispense a ‘pea-size’ amount of toothpaste and perform or assist w/their child’s tooth-brushing.”

“Supervise child when brushing and teach him/her to spit out, not swallow, the toothpaste.”

“Help child develop good eating habits early and choose sensible, nutritious snacks.”

For additional information on helping your child prepare for his/her first dental appointment, read: How to Get Your Child Comfortable in the Dentist's Chair

These tips will help you prevent tooth decay in your children. Be sure to schedule an appointment as soon as your child’s first tooth appears at Platinum Dental Care, a dentist near me. We believe each one of our dentists could be named the best dentists in Utah, as each one can ensure good dental health for life. For scheduling a dental visit with our dentist in , give us a call at 801-806-4704.