What Is Baby Bottle Tooth Decay?

Baby bottle tooth decay is common in infants who are breastfed on an irregular schedule or whose parents dip their dummy in honey or sugar. Tooth decay can also occur when the baby is put to bed or down for a nap with a bottle.
Baby formula, milk, fruit juice, and other sweetened drinks contain a high sugar content that feeds the bacteria that erode the baby’s teeth and gums.
To avoid cavities in infants, brush and floss their teeth to make sure their mouths are sugar-free.

What Causes Baby Bottle Decay?

The reaction of leftover sugars in the mouth (after consuming liquids such as breast milk and formula) with the naturally occurring bacteria in the mouth of a baby results in an erosion of the surface enamel of the teeth. This erosion occurs because oral germs or bacteria turn the sugars in the mouth into acid, which destroys the tooth’s enamel and begins tooth decay. Baby teeth have a
much thinner enamel layer, making them more susceptible to decay. Also, when sleeping and napping an infant’s saliva production slows down and is less able to wash away the sugary liquid.

Baby Bottle Worries: Glass vs. Plastic Baby Bottles

Glass baby bottles present several concerns such as durability, safety, and effectiveness. Glass bottles are more easily broken than plastic bottles, making them less durable and safe for a baby to be around. One upside to the adoption of glass baby bottles is the elimination of harmful
chemicals from contact with the baby’s formula. The use of chemicals such as bisphenol A in making plastic baby bottles and sippy cups has been banned in the last decade due to potential risk factors: cancers, changes in the brain and reproductive system, and potentially early puberty. The choice between glass or plastic depends on the preference of the parents.
Some think it's better to be safe than sorry in avoiding BPA and similar chemicals, and so they use only glass bottles and sippy cups. Others think it’s best to trust government research and regulation to avoid the potential of further injury with glass bottles.

Symptoms of Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

Baby bottle tooth decay is usually accompanied by several physical indicators on the enamel of the teeth, as well as discomfort in the gums and teeth caused by redness and swelling.

1. Teeth Discolouration
A common indicator of baby bottle tooth decay is the appearance of discolouration or
slight yellowing of the teeth as a result of bacterial growth on the enamel. If black
and brown spots appear; you will know your child is at risk of losing those teeth to
decay. If your baby has any tooth discolouration as an adult, visit your nearest
practitioner or dentist in Southend to safely eliminate the appearance of decay

2. Infection of the Gums
An irritated and inflamed gum line also characterises baby bottle tooth decay. Bacteria accumulate around the teeth and gums and result in discomfort and swelling as well as occasional redness.

3. Excessive Pain
Excessive pain stemming from a bacterial infection in the root of the tooth prohibits babies from eating or drinking, impacting their overall health. Pain is first felt during eating but later progresses to a more persistent, constant pain.

4. Trouble While Eating and Speaking
Children’s ability to eat and speak requires more effort when the gums are either irritated or severely inflamed. One of the most common symptoms of baby bottle tooth decay is inflamed or irritated gums, which sends pain signals to the brain when the child opens their mouth to speak or chew. Babies have a difficult time chewing with baby bottle tooth decay because the act of chewing is made painful by the excessive inflammation of the gums.

5. Disruption in Sleep
Babies who experience discomfort in the mouth are at a higher risk for other sleeping
disorders. The pain a baby feels because of inflamed gums or infected teeth can
keep them up at night. Babies with sleeping disorders are more likely to show mood
fluctuations and digestion issues.

Ways to Protect Your Baby from Tooth Decay:

It is important that you protect your infant or toddler from getting baby bottle tooth decay. Premature loss of baby teeth also influences the way adult teeth grow in, so if tooth decay is not prevented during childhood, it can lead to life-long issues such as lack of space to support a full set of adult teeth. Tooth decay is also known as childhood carries, nursing carries, or baby bottle
decay and is prevented through several easy preventative measures such as:

1. Do Not Put Your Child to Bed with a Bottle or Food
Avoid allowing your child access to a bottle or food after the teeth have been brushed before bed. If you allow your child to enjoy sugary snacks and juices from their beds, they are at a higher risk of bacterial infection due to the sugar content and a higher risk of choking in bed. It can also cause ear infections.

2. Replace the Bottle With a Cup When Your Child is 6 to 12 Months Old
After about 6 to 12 months of bottle use, parents are encouraged to transition their children to drinking from cups. This transition is one that should be made as quickly as possible, so as not to allow children to become attached to their bottles. If parents wait too long to begin this transition, the bottle habit becomes harder to break.

3. Get Enough Fluoride
Check if your water system is fluoridated, if it’s not, consider having fluoride supplements prescribed to your child. Drinking water with fluoride in it protects your child from tooth decay and benefits their oral health.

4. Avoid or Limit Certain Foods
Avoid sticky, sweet foods such as gummy sweets, fruit chews, cakes, biscuits, and other sweets that break down enamel and increase the likelihood of tooth decay. Substitute these snacks with raw fruits and veggies like celery and carrots that simultaneously act as a source of nutrition and clean the teeth while chewing.

1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28759394
2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30570970
3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26579710

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