Falling asleep on the bottle

Q&A today is on Bottle Decay – an ENTIRELY preventable condition. New mums especially, this is one topic you need to know about. It affects about 15% of 2-3yo kids, however I have come across it in higher numbers.

What is it? 

While putting a child to bed with a bottle is okay for newborns, as soon as the first tooth appears, it is important to reduce and eventually stop this. Baby bottles that are filled with formula, milk, breastmilk, cordial, soft drink or juices have either artificial or natural sugars in them. This sugar can cause tooth decay IF the infant falls asleep with the bottle. Relatives/friends should also be aware of this condition if they put the child to bed.

What does it look like? 

When you open your child’s mouth, their teeth may have pitting (roughness or grooves) or changes in colour. Yellow, brown and black spots are common. It tends to affect the upper front teeth the most. Because baby teeth have thin enamel, it progresses rapidly. When it progresses, you may notice a pimple on the gum next to the affected tooth/teeth. A small hole can turn into a toothache or an abscess. Your little one may be constantly crying, develop a fever or stop eating.

Why do I care?

Tooth decay is the leading cause of hospital admissions in primary school children. I have treated kids with this condition under general anaesthesia. By treating these kids, I have experienced first-hand the embarrassment, distress and regret that parents have when their infant needs to be admitted to hospital. Pain, complex treatment and loss of income can be prevented. Every parent tells me they wish they had known sooner.

3 ways to prevent Bottle Decay

  1. If you must put your infant to sleep with a bottle, only put plain water in it. Same goes for sippy cups – fill them with water throughout the day. During mealtimes is when you can add other drinks.
  2. As soon as teeth appear in your infant’s mouth, start the habit of cleaning them. Do this by wiping with a small gauze after mealtimes and especially before bedtime.
  3. A visit to the dentist should begin as soon as the first tooth shows in the mouth. I count the teeth, look at decay risk and ask about feeding habits. It is a very easy appointment which empowers mums with knowledge and tackles issues early on. It gives bubs the best start to life!

At Riverstone Family Dental we advocate for the prevention of oral disease.

This means we urge our patients, local and surrounding communities to get their teeth checked in order to prevent problems.

Waiting until there is a problem is bad for your health and usually means more treatment.

If you have any concerns, give us a call on (02) 8678 3538.

For greater detail, this Early Childhood Caries Update is a great study and What Causes Cavities is a TED video you can watch with your family 🙂

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