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What is baby bottle tooth decay?

Tooth decay in babies and younger children is commonly referred to as baby bottle tooth decay. Baby bottle tooth decay occurs when sweetened liquids or those with natural sugars (like milk, formula milk and fruit juice) cling to an infant’s teeth for long periods of time.  Bacteria in the mouth thrive on this sugar and produce acids that attack the teeth.
Children who are at risk of developing baby bottle tooth decay include:
  • Children who have a sugary drink before nap or bedtime
  •  Children whose dummies are frequently dipped in sugar or syrup
While baby bottle tooth decay typically happens in the upper front teeth, other teeth may also be affected.
If you think that baby teeth are only temporary and not important then think again. Baby teeth are necessary for chewing, speaking, and smiling. They also serve as placeholders for the adult teeth. If baby bottle tooth decay is left untreated, it can result in pain and infection. Severely decayed teeth may have to be removed.
If teeth are infected or lost too early due to baby bottle tooth decay, your child may develop poor eating habits, speech problems, crooked and damaged adult teeth.
The good news is that a few simple steps can help stave off baby bottle tooth decay. They include implementing good oral hygiene at an early age. Here's how:
  • Wipe the baby's gums with a clean gauze pad or flannel after each feed.
  • As soon as the teeth start to come through, you should start brushing them. You can buy special brushes for babies and make sure you use fluoride toothpaste.
  • Clean and massage gums in areas without teeth.
  • Floss once all the baby teeth have come through.
  • Book regular dental check-ups. It is recommended that you book an appointment for your child as early as possible.
  • Never give your child a dummy dipped in anything sweet.
  • Don’t fill bottles with sugared water or soft drinks. 
Find out more about cleaning baby's teeth while teething

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