If you are expecting or have a baby, you should consult with your dentist about baby-bottle tooth decay. According to a pediatric nursing journal, many parents may be aware of the causation of baby-bottle decay, but unfortunately, some people may unintentionally allow prolonged nursing with milk or beverages other than water. Read on to learn more about what causes baby-bottle decay, why it's an issue, and how to prevent it.

What Is It?

When babies have prolonged contact with milk or juice, the sugars in the drink can cause decay in their developing teeth—especially if a baby is sent to bed with a bottle or sippy cup. Baby-bottle decay can also be caused by dipping pacifiers in sugar. While pacifiers dipped in sugar can ease neonatal pain for special cases, like injections, it shouldn't be a long-term habit. Sharing feeding spoons and licking pacifiers can also lead to baby-bottle decay, as cavity-causing bacteria can spread through saliva. If your child starts developing baby-bottle decay, you may notice white or brown lesions on their teeth—especially their anterior teeth.

Why Is This a Problem?

Some parents may think that baby-bottle decay is not a big issue since children lose their baby teeth. However, baby teeth are incredibly important for your child's speech development and to help with nutritional intake. If decay isn't treated, it can spread below the gumline and damage incoming adult teeth and gingival tissue. Also, if baby teeth are lost too early because the decayed tooth has to be extracted, then incoming adult teeth can come in crooked, and your child may require orthodontic intervention.

How Can You Prevent This Issue?

You should only send your child to bed with a bottle or sippy cup filled with water. Some parents may be tempted to give their child fruit juice, but these kinds of beverages actually contain a lot of sugar just like soda pop. Juice shouldn't be given to your child until they are over the age of one, and when juice is given, it should be in moderation.

Whether you breastfeed or bottle feed your baby, once they have finished feeding, their gums should be wiped with a clean, damp washcloth or gauze pad. When teeth start erupting, then you should start helping your child gently brush their teeth with pediatric toothpaste and child-size toothbrushes.

Reach out to a dental office, such as Total Dentistry, today for more information.