You’ve had a long day. Your baby’s being finicky. You’re tempted to put her to bed with a juice bottle so she goes to sleep quickly and quietly.
For the health of your baby’s teeth, resist the urge. When your baby’s teeth are constantly exposed to sugary liquids, they begin to deteriorate, resulting in a condition called baby bottle tooth decay. Instead of sweetened liquids like milk, formula, juice or soft drinks, feed your baby a bottle of cool water at bedtime.
Your baby needs strong, healthy teeth for all the same reasons you do. Primary or baby teeth are the placeholders for your child’s adult teeth. If these baby teeth have to be removed before they would be naturally lost, your baby’s adult smile could be in danger of becoming crooked or overcrowded, and may impact her speech development as she learns to talk.
Here are some tips from the Canadian Dental Association to help you prevent decay:
- Even before your baby has teeth, wipe the baby’s gums with a clean damp washcloth or piece of gauze after each feeding.
- Begin brushing your child’s teeth when the first tooth appears. Clean and massage gums that remain toothless. Begin flossing when all the baby teeth have come in, usually between two and three years old.
- Never allow your child to fall asleep with a bottle of milk, formula, fruit juice, soft drink or sweetened liquids.
- If your child needs a comforter between regular feedings, at night or during naps, fill a bottle with cool water or give the child a clean pacifier. Never give your child a pacifier dipped in any sweet liquid.
- Start regular dental visits by your child’s first birthday. If you think your child has a dental problem, see your dentist as soon as possible.
Baby bottle tooth decay can cause toothaches and make it difficult to eat now. Left untreated, it can cause severe infection, leaving your dentist no choice but to remove the teeth. If that happens, your child may experience everything from poor eating habits to speech problems — even crooked, damaged or discoloured permanent teeth.
So prevent baby bottle tooth decay before it begins – and start your child off right.