It’s okay for your baby or toddler to drink from a bottle or sippy cup. It’s what you put in it and when they drink that matters most.
Baby bottle tooth decay is what happens when a child who drinks from a bottle or a sippy cup gets cavities on their baby teeth. This happens with juice, flavored milk and definitely with soda/pop. (Most people don’t realize that this also happens with regular milk.)
The sugar and the carbohydrates in the drinks break down and eat away at the teeth over time. The constant exposure is why it happens so often. Tooth decay in baby teeth sets the stage for problems with permanent teeth like additional cavities and improper placement. Here are some things you can do to protect the primary teeth of your infant or toddler:
- Don’t share saliva with your youngster by eating from the same spoon or licking a pacifier.
- Wipe your child’s gums with a clean, damp cloth after meals.
- Brush baby teeth gently with a child-size toothbrush or infant finger brush
- Brush your child’s teeth with a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste (when kids are 3-6 years).
- Supervise brushing until your child can spit and not swallow toothpaste. Remember that even once they are able to do this, it doesn’t mean that they are going to be able to do a good job when they are doing it on their own. Help them.
- Place only formula, breast milk or water in bottles. Avoid juice, soft drinks and sugar water.
- Infants and toddlers should finish their bedtime and naptime bottles before lying down. Your child is at higher risk for getting cavities if he/she is put to bed with a bottle, or if a bottle is used to calm your child when he/she gets fussy.
- If your child must go to bed with a bottle or cup, fill it with water. Water with fluoride is best.
- If your child wants a drink between meals, give him water. Wait until meals to give your child milk, juice or other beverages. During meals, the act of chewing food gets saliva flowing, which helps to neutralize the acidic environment caused by sugar.
- Avoid dipping pacifiers in pop/soda, juice, sugar or honey. (Note: Honey should NOT be given to children under the age of 1-year.)
- Don’t give juice, pop/soda, milk or flavored milk to infants under the age of 1-year.
- The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that bottles be phased out and transitioned to a sippy cup by 12-24 months, and can be used as early as 6 months. Sippy cups should be phased out as soon as they can manage it. Try to have children transitioned to a regular cup prior to age 2-years. Pacifiers should be limited by age 2-years, and eliminated by age 4-years. The earlier the transitions happen, the easier they are. Attachments only get stronger with time.
Whether your child drinks from a bottle, sippy cup or regular cup—always provide healthy, well-balanced meals.
~Post by Jenna, Dental Hygienist with Dorosti Dental, and mom