Do you know what one of childhood’s most common chronic diseases is in the United States? You may be surprised…it is tooth decay! According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over half of children (52%) have had a cavity in their baby teeth by the time they turn eight years old. This could be attributed to thinner enamel than adults, lacking good dental hygiene habits, and sugary snacks. However, your child may have an increased chance of cavities beginning as young as a tiny infant. Here’s what you need to know about a common issue called baby bottle tooth decay and what you can do to protect your little one’s smile!

What Is Baby Bottle Tooth Decay?

Does your baby suck on their bottle all throughout the day? Or perhaps you allow them to take it to bed with them? Unfortunately, unless your little one is filling up on anything besides water, their chances of developing tooth decay are significantly increased. Even “healthy” beverages like formula, milk, and juice put their oral risk at health if continually sipped upon. Due to the high amounts of sugar in these liquids, their teeth are saturated by the acids produced by their oral bacteria. When you allow habitual drinking all throughout the day or put your baby to sleep with their bottle, these sugary drinks accumulate around their teeth and gums and dramatically increase their risk of cavities.

What Can You Do to Protect Your Child’s Smile?

Luckily, there are things you can do to help keep your child’s teeth healthy and minimize their chances of developing tooth decay. Consider these helpful tips:

  • Try offering a bottle of warm water instead of giving milk to sleep with.
  • Gently wipe down their gums every time they drink or eat, especially before bedtime.
  • Don’t get in the habit of dipping their pacifier in sugar or honey.
  • Use a small toothbrush to clean your child’s first tooth as soon as it appears.
  • As soon as two teeth come in next to each other, start flossing.
  • Focus on nourishing them with food and drinks that are low in sugar.

When Should Your Child Begin Their Dental Visits?

Visiting the dentist every six months for checkups and cleanings is vital to you and your family’s oral health, but when should your little one start going? When your child’s first tooth emerges or by their first birthday is the best guide for when they should begin their visits. This will allow a pediatric dentist to closely examine their teeth and gums, ensure everything is developing normally, offer helpful tips, and answer any questions you have.

While tooth decay does affect so many little ones, it is entirely preventable. Follow these tips to keep your child’s teeth healthy and cavity-free so they can grow to have the most beautiful smile possible!

About the Author

Dr. Veronica Martinez and her team at Children’s Dental Specialty are eager to help your child have a happy, healthy smile throughout every stage of development. She is a board-certified pediatric dentist and is an active member of several dental associations, such as the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. She offers a full range of services, including baby dental exams to get your little one’s oral health to a superb start! To schedule an appointment, contact her through her website or call  (480) 282-6746.

Dr. Veronica

Author Dr. Veronica

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