Kids Corner

Baby bottle tooth decay

Baby bottle tooth decay is a form of decay than can destroy the teeth of an infant or young child. The teeth most likely to be damaged are the upper front teeth. These teeth are critical to you child’s smile. Other teeth may also be affected by this condition.

Causes of baby bottle tooth decay

Baby Bottle Tooth Decay is caused by frequent and long exposure of a child’s teeth to liquids containing sugars. Milk, formula, fruit juices, and other sweetened liquids help to create this problem. The sugar in these liquids is used as an energy source by the bacteria in plaque. Plaque is a thin, almost invisible film of bacteria and by-products that constantly form on everyone’s teeth. In the decay process, the bacteria produce acids which attach tooth enamel. The length of time these liquids are in contact with the teeth is critical. Longer and frequent exposures allow greater damage to occur.Offering your child a bottle containing these liquids many times a day, as a pacifier, isn’t a good idea. Allowing your child to fall asleep with a bottle during naps or at night can cause serious harm and damage to your child’s teeth. During sleep, the flow of saliva decreases. This allows the liquids in the nursing bottle to pool around your child’s teeth for long periods of time.


>Sometimes parents do not realize that a baby’s teeth are susceptible to decay as soon as they appear in the mouth. By the time decay is noticed, it may be too late to save the child’s teeth. You can prevent this from happening to your child’s teeth by learning how to protect them:

  • After each feeding, wipe the child’s teeth and gums with a damp washcloth or gauze pad, to remove plaque. Begin brushing your child’s teeth as soon as the first tooth erupts. Remember to continue cleaning and massaging the child’s gums in all other areas that remain toothless. Flossing should begin when all primary teeth have erupted, usually by age 2.

  • Never allow your child fall asleep with a bottle containing milk, formula, fruit juices or sweetened liquid.

  • If your child needs a comforter between regular feedings, at night, or during naps, fill a nursing bottle with cool water or give the child a clean pacifier recommended by your dentist or pediatrician. Never give your child a pacifier dipped in any sweetened liquid.

  • Avoid filling your child’s nursing bottle with any liquids such as sugar water, sweetened gelatin, and soft drinks.

  • Make sure your child gets the fluoride needed for decay-resistant teeth. If you are not sure that your local water supply contains the right amount of fluoride, ask your dentist about fluoride supplements.

  • Start dental visits between six and twelve months of age. Make appointments regularly. If you suspect that your child has a dental problem, take the child to see a dentist as soon as possible.

Fluoride supplements

The most effective way for your child to get fluoride’s protection is by drinking water containing the right amount of the mineral… about one part fluoride per million parts water. This is of special benefit to children, because fluoride is incorporated into enamel as teeth form. Children who, from birth, drink water containing fluoride have up to 40% fewer cavities. Many of them remain cavity-free through their teens.

Fluoride is one of the most effective elements for preventing tooth decay. This mineral combines with tooth enamel to strengthen it against decay. Fluoride may also actually reverse microscopic cavities by enhancing the process by which minerals, including calcium, are incorporated into the teeth. Even though your regular water supply may be fluoridated, it is still important to discuss with your dentist any additional fluoride needs your child may have. Look for fluoride toothpastes and over-the-counter fluoride mouth rinses that carry the ADA seal. They have been proven safe and effective for their intended use. The advertising claims for these products have been reviewed by the ADA so the claims are accurate and not misleading.

Your dentist at paradise Dental Care may recommend various ways to get fluoride protection, including:

  • Drinking fluoridated water at school.

  • Taking prescribed fluoride tablets or drops.

  • Brushing with a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste after age two.

  • Using a fluoride mouth rinse for children over age six.

Care for infants

People usually think of a newborn baby as having no teeth. But the 20 primary teeth that will erupt in the next two and a half years are already present at birth in the baby’s jawbones. At birth, the crowns of the primary teeth are almost complete and the chewing surfaces of the permanent molars have begun to form. The front four teeth usually erupt first, beginning as early as six months after birth.

Your infant depends totally on you for dental care. You should begin cleaning the baby’s mouth during the first few days after birth. After every feeding, wipe the baby’s gums and teeth with a damp washcloth or gauze pad to remove plaque. This establishes, at an early age, the importance of dental hygiene and the feeling of having clean teeth and gums.

To clean your child’s teeth, place the child in a comfortable position that will allow easy access to his or her mouth.

First dental visits

Take you child to see the dentist by his or her first birthday. Your child’s first visit to a dentist at  Paradise Dental Care can be a pleasant adventure. Talk about the visit in a positive matter-of-fact way, as you would any important new experience. Explain that the dentist is a friendly doctor who will help the child stay healthy.

During the first visit, the child’s mouth will be examined for tooth decay and other problems. The teeth may be cleaned by the dentist or dental hygienist. The dentist will explain how the child’s teeth should be cleaned at home, how diet and eating habits affect dental health and methods to ensure that your child gets sufficient fluoride. Most children have a full set of 20 primary teeth by the time they are three years old. Primary teeth are just as important as permanent teeth, for chewing, speaking, and appearance. In addition, the primary teeth hold the space in the jaws for the permanent teeth. You should start brushing the child’s teeth as soon as the first tooth erupts. Flossing should begin when all the primary teeth have erupted, usually by age 2 to 2 ½. By age 4 or 5, the child may be able to brush his or her own teeth under supervision. The pre-school years are an important time to help your child establish good eating habits, since you can control your child’s diet successfully. At this age, many children need to eat snacks or “mini-meals”. They cannot always eat enough food at mealtimes to get all the nutrients and energy they need. Help your child choose sensible snacks – foods that don’t promote tooth decay.

Care for toddlers

To prevent tooth decay and periodontal diseases, tooth brushing and flossing are needed daily to remove harmful plaque from your child’s teeth. Look for a toothbrush that bears the IDA seal. They have been shown to be safe and effective for their intended use. The advertising claims for these products have been reviewed by the Indian Dental Association and the claims are accurate and not misleading. Ask your dentist to recommend a toothbrush for your child. Children need smaller brushes, specially designed for them. Generally, a brush with soft, end-rounded or polished bristles is recommended, since it is less likely to injure gum tissue. Check your child's toothbrush often and replace it when it is worn out. Bent or frayed bristles will not clean plaque from your child’s teeth and they can damage gums. The IDA recommends replacing toothbrushes every 3 months. Brushing removes plaque from the inner, outer, and chewing surfaces or the teeth. Select a fluoride toothpaste with the seal of the ADA. Children under six years of age should clean their teeth with a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste after every meal and at bedtime.

  • Holding the toothbrush bristles at a 45-degree angle against the gum line, move the brush back and forth with short strokes - half a tooth wide - in a gentle, scrubbing motion.

  • Brush the outer surfaces of all teeth in the upper and lower jaws. Repeat the same method on the inside surfaces and chewing surfaces of all the teeth.

  • Finish by brushing the tongue to help freshen breath and remove bacteria.

  • Use about 18 inches of floss, wind most of it around the middle fingers of both hands. Hold the floss tightly between the thumbs and forefingers. Use a gentle, sawing motion to guide the floss between the teeth.

  • Curve the floss into a C shape and slide it into the space between the gum and the tooth until you feel resistance. Now, gently scrape the floss, in and up and down motion, against the side of the tooth.

  • Repeat this procedure on each tooth. Don’t forget the backs of the last four teeth.

Flossing removes plaque that hides between the teeth and under the gum line, areas where a toothbrush cannot reach. Supervising your child while he or she brushes and flosses will ensure that a proper job is done.