NW Calgary Dentists at Metro Dental in Harvest Hills love seeing young smiles in their office; and they devote a lot of their time and energy to ensuring that baby teeth are protected from decay and premature loss. Baby Bottle Tooth Decay can rob a young child of their smile and dental health – and set them up for a lifetime of dental appointments. Dr. Verena Lam and Dr. Jeff Chen of Metro Dental strive to educate parents on the merits of taking care of primary teeth, and avoiding foods and drinks that increase the risk of early childhood decay.
Baby Bottle Tooth Decay is a term that has been used for decades to describe the decayed teeth caused by sugary liquids present in a baby’s bottle. Sweetened liquids and liquids with natural sugars (milk, formula, and fruit juice) wash over a child’s teeth during feeding and at nap or bedtime when a bottle may be given. Left to sit on a child’s teeth for an extended period, the liquid residue interacts with bacteria present in the mouth – creating acids that eat away at the enamel of teeth and cause tooth decay. As crazy as it sounds – babies and toddlers can develop cavities – that require dental treatment to avoid tooth loss and dental infection.
No one wants to think of a young child having to have multiple dental appointments to address dental decay – but that’s just what happens when baby teeth aren’t cleaned after a feed, or if they continually fed liquids containing both natural and added sweeteners. Even a child whose first tooth hasn’t erupted yet, needs to have their gums cleaned after a bottle. Soft, towelling material that is moistened and gently swiped over a baby’s gums will remove any milky residue. And for babies and toddlers who do have teeth – well that’s the sign to get out a small, soft, toothbrush and introduce your child to the daily habit of brushing. Though baby teeth are not meant to be a child’s permanent set of teeth – they are still important, as they assist in the development of speech, chewing and smiling – and have the important role of holding space for developing adult teeth.
To protect your child from baby bottle decay – avoid giving your child a sugary drink at naptime or bedtime as the residual sugars are left on tooth surfaces for many hours, and the reduction in saliva while sleeping means that sugar bugs are not being rinsed from teeth. Giving your child a drink of water not only keeps teeth free from sugar, but hydrates a young child and keeps their mouth moist.
If you suspect your young child may have decay or is exposed to high sugar drinks – contact NW Calgary Dentists at Metro Dental. These dentists focus on providing dentistry for children and are able to provide some great tips on keeping your child’s mouth healthy – 403.262.2627