Nursing and bottle-feeding are a vital part of raising a baby or young child, but both can affect baby teeth. The first baby teeth erupt around 6-10 months old and are the two lower front teeth. All baby teeth will be erupted into the mouth by about 2.5 years old and need to be taken care of so as not to get cavities.
Effect of Milk on Baby Teeth
“Baby bottle decay” refers to cavities caused by milk and usually appears as chipped or dark spots between the upper front teeth and along the gum lines. Both nursing and bottle feeding exposes the baby’s teeth to the natural sugars from milk, which can cause cavities just like processed sugars from sweets. Milk from nursing and a bottle both pass by the upper front teeth, so these are the teeth that are most prone to getting cavities at an early age. While cavities are most common on the upper front teeth, they can appear anywhere in the mouth.
How to Prevent Nursing/ Bottle Feeding Cavities
- Before any teeth erupt in your baby’s mouth, you can begin cleaning the gums once a day with a damp cloth or gauze.
- Once the first teeth begin to erupt, it is important to start using a small toothbrush with water to brush the teeth at least twice a day.
- Make sure to brush at least twice a day, but also try brushing after milk and always before bed.
- Don’t put your baby/ child to bed with a bottle (they can fall asleep while drinking milk and extend the exposure time to sugars)
- Always brush your baby/child’s teeth after milk, before bed.
- Never put anything in your baby/child’s bottle besides milk or water.
Fixing Baby Bottle Decay
It is vital to get your baby/child to your dentist as soon as you notice a chipped or stained spot on any of their teeth. Treatment for baby bottle decay depends on the severity of the decay. Smaller decay can be restored with white fillings, while larger decay may require the teeth to be extracted. Baby teeth extracted prematurely may lead to issues with the eruption of the adult teeth later on.
If you have any questions about baby bottle decay or the effects of nursing/ bottle feeding on your baby/child’s teeth, we encourage you to contact us today to schedule an appointment.