I am pleased to welcome Nadia Jones as a guest poster today; after reading some of my posts on my breastfeeding struggles and knowing that I do feed my little one by bottle, she offered to share some interesting and important information on keeping baby’s teeth safe when it comes to bottle feeding.
One thing I was curious about when first reading her post was whether the same cautions would apply to breastfeeding, and if not, why not. Nadia graciously answered my query on why and how it is not really the same, and I’ve added her answer to the post.
I hope you enjoy and find this post helpful, and be sure to leave any questions you may have for Nadia in the comments section.
The Rotten Truth About Baby Bottle Tooth Decay
If you’re feeding baby by bottle, it’s important to know whether you are putting him or her at risk for developing baby bottle tooth decay, especially as he or she begins to develop teeth around the 6-month-mark.
What is Baby Tooth Decay?
In short, baby bottle tooth decay is a disease that typically occurs when a child is put to bed with a bottle, or when a bottle is used as a pacifier to calm a fussy baby. What happens is that bacteria starts to attack your child’s teeth due to the prolonged exposure to cavity-inducing sugary substances that are found in most liquids, including fruit juice, breast milk and formula – these sugary liquids just fester around your baby’s teeth while they sleep and cause them to rot.
Interjection: This is where I asked Nadia my question, which was – knowing that many moms nurse their babies to sleep, would there be the same possibility of tooth decay issues? She answered:
No, it’s not quite the same. When a baby falls asleep with a bottle, liquid still has the ability to seep through and “pool” in the child’s mouth, which causes the decay. In order to retrieve breast milk on the other hand, the nursing child has to actively suck (which means he or she must be awake). This means the milk enters the mouth behind the teeth and that he or she is swallowing, so it never really “pools” and festers. In addition, it never pools because a mother will stop nursing her child and remove her breast from her child’s mouth once the child falls asleep.
Baby tooth decay can also be the result of a mother passing on bacteria found in her mouth to her child via saliva. For example, when mothers choose to clean a pacifier with their mouths or when mothers put their baby’s feeding spoon in their mouths first to show how appetizing something may be, bacteria is easily transferred to their child.
Why is Protecting Baby Teeth Important?
While it’s true that your child’s baby teeth will fall out eventually and be replaced by adult teeth later on in life, it’s important that your child maintains healthy teeth even in the earliest stages. Strong healthy baby teeth will not only allow your child to eat better, but if your child loses a tooth/teeth to decay, their adult teeth may grow in decayed as well. Not to mention that if your child’s tooth/teeth falls out to early, his or her adult teeth may grow in crooked or crowded.
Fortunately, baby tooth decay can in fact be prevented.
How to Prevent It?
First things first, you need to avoid putting notoriously sugar drinks in your child’s bottle such as fruit juice, soda, or sweetened water. It’s recommended to only pour formula, milk or breastmilk in bottles – but do not allow your child to fall asleep while still sucking on the bottle. This is crucial.
That said, it’s best to only allow your child to drink water between each meal when they grow old enough to have liquids outside of breastmilk or formula. After each meal, do your best to wipe your baby’s gums and emerging teeth with a clean damp washcloth to remove plaque.
Once your child’s teeth begin to really develop, it’s important that you start to gently brush them – find a child’s size toothbrush and use water to help remove leftover food particles. Ask your pediatrician before using actual toothpaste. You also want to make sure that you avoid putting your saliva on your child’s pacifiers and serving spoons.
Of course, it’s a great idea to keep you own oral hygiene in check as well in case a cross contamination were to occur – if you have a clean mouth it will lower the risks.
This is a guest post by Nadia Jones, who blogs at online colleges about education, college, student, teacher, money saving, movie related topics. You can reach her at nadia.jones5(at)gmail(dot)com.