Thursday, June 5, 2008

Baby Bottle Caries

As a dentist, I've seen my share of "baby bottle caries". It has numerous other names - "nursing bottle caries, early childhood caries, baby bottle decay, etc." It is heartbreaking every time.

Caries or decay is an infectious disease. It is caused by frequent and long-term exposure of teeth to liquids containing sugars. Milk, formula, fruit juice, soda and other sweetened drinks are the usual offenders. The sugar in these liquids pools around the teeth and gums feeding the bacteria in the mouth. Acid is produced by the bacteria and attack the teeth, thus causing decay. Baby bottle tooth decay is also associated with breast-fed infants and children whose pacifiers are frequently dipped in honey sugar or syrup. Any sweet liquid left in the mouth while a baby is sleeping increases the risk of decay.

When decay is left untreated, because there is the misconception that baby teeth are not important, there can be pain and infection, and subsequent speech problems and possible damage to their adult teeth.

Prevention, prevention, prevention!!! Don't allow a child to fall asleep with a bottle. If they do - and I know first hand about this, use a moistened gauze or washcloth (or Tooth Tissue), wrapped around a finger, to wipe around their mouth and gently massage the gums. Ideally this should be done after every feeding but before bedtime and naps is really the most important.

1 comment:

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