Baby bottle tooth decay, sometimes called nursing bottle syndrome, is when your babys teeth begin to decay, or form cavities. This happens when well-meaning moms and dads put their children to bed with a bottle of formula, milk or juice to help soothe them to sleep. The sugars from these liquids remain on the teeth, and combine with bacteria which are normally found on the teeth. This produces acids, which causes the decay. Not only is this unsightly, but it affects your child’s current and future dental health as well.
Here are some tips to prevent baby bottle tooth decay:
- Start at an early age to help your child fall asleep without a bottle.
- After the final feeding, use a soft piece of sterile gauze, or a soft baby fingertip toothbrush to wipe their teeth and gums. Since most babies like putting things in their mouths anyway, this is usually easy, and helps introduce tooth brushing at an early age. If you must give them a bottle to sleep, make it plain water rather than formula, milk or juice.
- If the baby falls asleep while drinking, remove the bottle or breast, and gently wipe their teeth and gums as described above.
- Never dip a pacifier in honey or sugar.
- Start offering your child a sippy cup at six months of age. Plan to be rid of the bottle by twelve to fourteen months. By this time, you can be brushing their teeth with water at bedtime.