an infant having their teeth checked by dentist

Preventing Baby Bottle Tooth Decay & Your Baby’s First Dentist Appointment

With all the chaos that kids bring to our lives, it’s hard to keep everything straight. There is always something to worry about. Oral health is no exception. We think we know how to care for teeth but like every other category, it’s a completely different puzzle for children. Once they start popping teeth through you can’t help but wonder when you need to seek a dentist’s help.

What Is Baby Bottle Tooth Decay?

While your child’s first set of teeth is temporary, they are still susceptible to tooth decay which can lead to other problems. It is important to keep your child’s first set of teeth healthy. Children need to have strong and healthy teeth to chew their food and speak. Not to mention that irresistible baby smile. Your child’s first teeth also help make sure their adult teeth come in correctly.

Tooth decay in infants and toddlers is known as Baby Bottle Tooth Decay or what is called Early Child Caries, and it is important that your infant has good oral care in order to help protect their teeth for years to come.

What Causes Baby Bottle Tooth Decay?

The upper front teeth are most often impacted by Baby Bottle Tooth Decay, but it can happen to the other teeth as well.

There are quite a few factors that can cause tooth decay in your infants and toddlers. The most common cause is of course from their bottle and the nutrition within, but it is generally from what they are eating and how long they are exposed to it. A good example of the cause of tooth decay is sugar. Prolonged exposure to sugary drinks will cause tooth decay in anyone, but you may not realize that your children are getting that kind of exposure.

Tooth decay can occur if your baby is put to bed with a bottle or when a bottle is used as a pacifier. It is these types of situations where the sugar in their drink sits in their mouth for an extended period allowing for the sugar to begin attacking their teeth. Tooth decay – more often than not – begins with cavities. Cavities generally come from frequent and prolonged exposure to sugar or other cavity-causing bacteria.

The good news is that Baby Bottle Tooth Decay is preventable.

Preventing Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

Let’s cover some of the most important factors in Baby Bottle Tooth Decay prevention.

  • Your saliva and your child’s saliva are very different. It is best not to mix the two as your children’s teeth may be more susceptible to the bacteria in your mouth. Things like sharing a spoon can spread unwanted bacteria.
  • Once your child’s teeth have come in, give them a gentle brushing with a small toothbrush and an even smaller amount of toothpaste if you want.
  • Make sure to supervise your child’s brushing until you are certain they can be counted on to brush correctly and spit out the toothpaste. We find that about 6 or 7 years of age seems to be when children begin to brush their own teeth correctly.
  • Make sure to use a bottle for formula, milk or breast milk. Avoid using their bottles for juice or other sugary drinks.
  • Avoid sending your children to bed with a bottle as much as possible. Infants and toddlers should finish their bottle before going to bed.
  • Try and avoid dipping your child’s pacifier in honey or something sweet. It is best to keep it clean.
  • Use encouragement to get your child to drink from a cup on his or her first birthday.
  • Healthy habits are easiest to enforce early on and will have the best impact on them for the rest of their lives.

When To Schedule The Appointment

This might sound crazy to you but kids should see their dentist around one year of age. It seems early, but at one year most kids have been popping teeth for about six months. Because kids lose those first teeth, some of us think it shouldn’t be a concern. Baby teeth serve a great purpose in helping our kids to expand their diet and get their mouth ready for their permanent teeth. It’s important to keep them healthy.

What To Expect

The first visit is really an informal one. Your dentist will want to make sure your child is comfortable so they won’t throw too much at them. Think of the appointment as a meet and greet with a little checkup. The staff will do a short cleaning of your child’s teeth and possibly a fluoride treatment. Then the dentist will do a quick examination and answer any questions that you might have.

The dentist will want to examine the gum line, the jaw, the bite, and look for any signs of decay. With this examination, your dentist will want to discuss hygiene habits. Taking care of kids’ teeth can be a lot different than taking care of our own so your dentist will help guide you through what to do. Don’t be surprised if topics like thumb sucking, toddler teething, and your child’s diet come up as well.

Tips To Make It A Positive Experience

  • Take your child to visit the office BEFORE their appointment. Whether it’s a tour or having them tag along to your own appointment, it’s important to get them familiar with the environment.
  • Plan your day around the dentist. The last thing your kid needs is a stressed-out parent trying to stick to a busy schedule.
  • Face your own fears. Kids are way too good at picking up on our own emotions. If you are nervous about the appointment, chances are they will be too. Do whatever you need to do to keep the positivity flowing.
  • Be a cheerleader. Make sure your kids know that you are proud of them and encourage them to be brave.
  • Prepare them for the appointment. Talk to your kids about the appointment, play pretend with them, read books, whatever works for you.

At Eagle Rock Dental Care we are here to help ease the stress of these situations. Contact us with any and all of your questions! We pride ourselves on the importance of family. We will take care of yours like they are our own. Schedule your appointment online or call any one of our three local offices.