Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

February 21st, 2022

Baby bottle tooth decay, also known as early childhood caries, refers to tooth decay in infants and toddlers. Your child needs strong, healthy primary teeth to properly chew food, to learn to speak, and to hold space until permanent teeth come in. That’s why preventing baby bottle tooth decay is very important.

The Causes of Tooth Decay in Children

There are a few risk factors when it comes to children’s tooth decay. A common cause is the frequent and prolonged exposure of your child’s teeth to sugary drinks, including milk, formula, and fruit juice. Bacteria in the mouth thrive on sugar and produce acids that attack the teeth. Giving you child a sugary drink at nap or nighttime can be especially harmful, because the flow of saliva decreases during sleep.

Tooth decay can also be caused by bacteria passed from you to your baby through saliva by sharing spoons, testing foods before feeding them to your baby, and cleaning off a pacifier in your mouth instead of with water. These germs can start the process that causes cavities even before your baby’s primary teeth emerge. This is even more reason to take care of your teeth too!

While less common, tooth decay can happen if your infant or toddler does not get enough fluoride in their diet, such as when you only drink bottled water or don’t have access to municipal or city water that is fluoridated for everyone. Your pediatric dentist may prescribe fluoride supplements to help prevent tooth decay.

Tooth Decay Prevention                              

The good news about baby bottle tooth decay is that it’s preventable!

  • After each feeding, wipe your infant's gums with a clean, damp gauze pad or washcloth, which helps clean and establish a routine for good oral hygiene
  • When your child’s teeth come in, brush them gently with a child-size toothbrush and a smear (or grain of rice-size amount) of fluoride toothpaste.
  • Place only formula, milk, or breast milk in bottles. Do not fill the bottle with liquids such as sugar water, chocolate milk, juice, tea, or soft drinks.
  • Make sure infants finish their bedtime or nap time bottles before putting them to bed.
  • If your child uses a pacifier, provide one that is clean.
  • Encourage your child to drink from a cup by his/her first birthday.
  • Encourage healthy eating habits.

Nourish Your Body, Not the Sugar Bugs!

February 8th, 2022

When we are feeding our kids, teeth are often the least of our worries. But hear us out – generally what is good for their bodies is also good for their teeth. The cavity-causing culprit is sugar, and sugar is added to nearly 70% of all foods sold in the grocery store. While it tastes great, whenever we enjoy any food or drink with sugar, the bacteria in our mouths also enjoy the snack. These bacteria – we like to call them sugar bugs – make themselves at home on your teeth, gums, and tongue, building making themselves at home in the form of plaque. After eating the sugar, bacteria make acid, which pulls minerals out of our teeth causing cavities. 

If you don’t brush and floss the sugar bugs away each day, the bacteria continue to weaken teeth, eventually causing cavities. Once cavities get large or deep enough, they can cause pain and infection.

Even with good brushing and flossing, constant exposure to sugar, even just a little bit, will do a number on your teeth. The best oral health practice for all children – and adults – is to eliminate as much sugar as possible when you eat and drink. 

Our number one suggestion - don’t bring food and drinks high in sugar in the house. Easier said than done, but eliminating the option entirely for both parents and kids will lead to infinitely better health and happiness! 

Snacks That Keep Teeth Clean & Healthy

The good news is that you can control how much sugar you bring into the house, and there are plenty of snack and lunch options that are good to your teeth! 

Crunchy, raw fruits and vegetables, such as apples and carrots, can help remove bacteria that live on the surface of teeth. Celery, pears, and cucumbers that have high water content also help clean teeth and promote overall health.

Lean meats, such as chicken, turkey, and white fish are a good source of protein, which helps strengthen tooth enamel. 

Dairy products such as sugar-free yogurts and milks are excellent sources of calcium, which is crucial for building strong teeth. 

Cheese is also an excellent snack and can actually help prevent cavities!

Additional Tips:

Drink Water, Not Juice. If there’s one change you can make, it’s to stop buying juices, sports drinks, and soft drinks for your family. Make it a habit to drink water instead of juice or sugary drinks. Don’t even bring juice into your home! Instead, use the money towards a different reward such as a family outing or activity.

Limit Snacking. This is a hard one! But establishing a routine that eliminates snacking throughout the day can limit the growth of bacteria. Remember, the more exposure to sugar, the greater the risk of cavities. 

Together, a healthy diet paired with regular brushing will help create healthy habits for your child.

What is baby bottle tooth decay (now know as Early Childhood Caries)?

April 8th, 2020

Great question! What was once known as baby bottle tooth decay and now called "early childhood caries" refers to the development of cavities in baby teeth, often caused by the frequent and long-term exposure of a child's teeth to liquids containing sugars. These liquids include milk, formula, fruit juice, sodas and other sweetened drinks. The bacteria in the mouth thrive on this sugar and produce acids that attack the infant's teeth and gums. After numerous attacks, cavities can begin to form.

The first rule is to make sure your child does not fall asleep with a bottle containing milk, formula, juice or other sweetened liquids. Giving an infant a sugary drink before bedtime is harmful because the flow of saliva decreases during sleep, allowing the sugary liquids to linger on the child's teeth for an extended period of time. If left untreated, pain and infection can result.

So, how can you prevent baby teeth from getting cavities?  In addition to eliminating sweet drinks, brush your child's teeth using a soft toothbrush, and a small amount of fluoride toothpaste.

The American Academy of Pediatrics, American Dental Association, and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommend that children have their first dental visit by 12 month of age.  We would love to meet your family and give your child the care they deserve! Please give us a call if your child hasn't visited our Raleigh and Wakefield office in the last six months or to set up a new patient appointment at one of our offices!

Good Nutrition Leads to Healthy Mouths

March 4th, 2020

At Carolina Pediatric Dentistry, we know the most common oral health diseases are tooth decay and periodontal disease (or gum disease), and both are among the easiest to prevent. One of the most common ways we recommend to boost your oral health is by improving your diet, because you (and your mouth) truly are what you eat. A healthy diet can lead to a healthy mouth and body, while an unhealthy diet can lead to the exact opposite.

The Role Nutrition Plays

While diet is not the only factor that leads to periodontal disease, studies suggest the disease may be more severe among patients whose diets lack essential nutrients. Poor diets will generally lead to a weaker immune system, leaving your body susceptible to all kinds of ailments, including periodontal disease.

A Well-Balanced Approach

There is no “magic” diet that we can recommend to improve your oral health, but the most important thing is to seek a well-balanced approach in your eating. While fad diets that emphasize one food group over another may help you lose weight in the short-term, they probably will not provide all the nutrients your body needs in the long run.

Meals should include a balance of lean meats or other healthy protein sources, colorful fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and healthy fats. Foods containing substantial amounts of sugar and salt should be consumed in moderation.

Soda and Sugar: A Dangerous Duo

Millions of gallons of soda are consumed every day in America, but sipping a cold soft drink can be very harmful to your teeth. Many of these beverages wear down the enamel that protects the teeth, which weakens and even destroys them over time. The American Beverage Association estimates that soft drinks account for almost 30 percent of all drink consumption in the U.S., averaging an annual total of about 50 gallons per person (up from only 20 gallons in the 1970s). For healthy teeth and a healthy body overall, try to limit your soda intake.

Sugar is another ubiquitous treat in our daily lives. When we eat sugar, naturally occurring bacteria in our mouths convert it to acids that attack tooth enamel. Consuming too much sugar can swiftly lead to tooth decay, cavities, and gum diseases like gingivitis. Most people do not even realize how much sugar they consume each day. It’s important to limit your daily sugar intake by reading the labels of all the food you eat, and sticking with natural food sources that are low in sugar and have little-to-no added sugars.

If you have questions about your diet and how it may be affecting your oral health, talk to Drs. LaRee Johnson, Clark Morris, Gentry Byrd, and Anne Baker about it. They would love to talk through the sugar informational boards at each office!! See you soon!

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