Baby bottle tooth decay

By HSC Staff Writer • Published: July 9th, 2007
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

If you tuck your toddler into bed with a bedtime bottle, you may be setting your little darling up for tooth decay. As soon as baby’s first tooth erupts, usually between the ages of five to seven months of age, bedtime bottle-feeding with milk or other sugary juices and drinks should end, or painful and unsightly tooth decay… termed “baby bottle mouth”… may set in.

That’s because as babies sleep with their bottle in their mouth, the sugar-laden fluid in the bottle isn’t swallowed or washed away by saliva. Instead, it pools in the mouth, usually around the front teeth. The decay-causing oral bacteria Streptococcus [STREP-TO-COK-HUS] mutans, [MOO-TANS] which lives in virtually everyone’s mouth, converts sugars in the drink into enamel-eroding lactic acid, leaving painful blackened pits or orange-yellow lesions on baby’s precious pearly whites.

Allowing decay to go too far can lead to dangerous infections, extraction of the afflicted tooth and problems with crooked adult teeth later in life.

Fortunately, parents can take simple steps to prevent their bundle of joy from suffering with baby bottle mouth. Don’t send babies to bed with bottles for nighttime feeding. If baby must have a bedtime bottle, fill it with water rather than milk or other sugary drink. Babies should also be taught to drink from a cup by the time they turn one.

Most importantly, brush those baby teeth after meals, or at least twice a day, to assure nothing but sweet dreams for you and your child.