Parents are often shocked to learn that their toddler already has cavities. Many parents wonder how that could happen to a child who is only 3 or 4 years old? Genetics and other factors can play a big role, but more often then not, it’s due to what many Dentists refer to as: Baby Bottle Tooth Decay. 

Baby Bottle Tooth Decay is most common in a child’s upper front teeth. The most common causes are:

  • Prolonged exposure of the baby’s teeth to beverages that contain sugar (such as fruit juice, chocolate milk or soft drinks).
  • The transfer of cavity-causing bacteria from the mother/father (or primary caregiver) to the infant. The most common example is a parent cleaning a baby’s feeding spoon or pacifier by putting it in their mouth and then transferring it back to the child.
  • The child is not receiving an adequate amount of fluoride.

The good news is that Baby Bottle Tooth Decay is entirely preventable. Here are some helpful tips:

  • Place only formula, milk or breastmilk in bottles. Avoid filling the bottle with other liquids such as juice, chocolate milk or soft drinks.
  • Avoid putting an infant to bed with a bottle or using the bottle as a pacifier to settle a fussy baby.
  • Do not to share saliva with a baby through common use of feeding spoons or by cleaning the child’s pacifier in your own mouth.
  • Encourage your child to start drinking with a cup by his/her first birthday.
  • For children 3 & under, brush their teeth gently with a child-size toothbrush and a grain-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste.
  • For children 3-6, use a child-size toothbrush and a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste.
  • Supervise your child’s brushing until he/she can be trusted not to swallow the toothpaste (usually not until he/she is at least 6 years old).
  • Encourage healthy eating habits.

Remember, your child needs strong, healthy teeth to chew their food, develop speech and have a confident, bright smile. Consider talking to your dentist about a visit when your child’s first tooth appears. Starting your children with effective oral care is the key to a lifetime of good dental health. 

If you’d like more information about your child’s oral health, CLICK HERE to schedule your appointment with Dr. Jennifer Thomm. 

Dr. Jennifer Thomm
Great Lakes Dental