Maybe you’ve seen them in your neighborhood or at the hair salon, cute little babies and toddlers who seem healthy and normal — until they smile or open their mouths to reveal tiny silver caps covering their front teeth.
Baby bottle tooth decay, or baby dental caries, is a result of mothers putting babies to bed with a bottle (or no-spill cup) full of sugary milk, juices or sodas. The prolonged contact of milk or juice leaves a sticky film on the baby’s teeth all night long.
Bacteria, which is always present in the baby’s mouth, eats the sugar in the film and converts it to acid which then eats away at the enamel on baby’s teeth. The damage progresses through 3 stages:
- Stage 1 – signs go unnoticed as bacteria decays teeth from inside out
- Stage 2 – discoloration begins at the gum line and works down the tooth
- Stage 3 – teeth begins to visibly corrode, fracture and fall out
Again, Stage 1 goes undetected. So by the time the bottle rot has progressed to stage 2, it may be too late to save the teeth. And if your child’s permanent teeth have already grown in (or the baby teeth never fall out, such as in producer Jermaine Dupri’s case) the Dental bills can be very expensive. Some dentists charge $3,000 and up to save your child’s teeth.
Treatment includes painful root canals, extractions and/or the placement of porcelain caps (expensive) or silver caps (cheaper) over the baby’s teeth to save them. Extensive dental treatments could require hospitalization.
Dentists advise mothers with children of teeth bearing age to avoid putting your toddler to bed with a bottle or a no-spill cup filled with anything other than water. If your child fusses and cries, she will eventually the no milk or juice at night rule and you will get a good night’s sleep.
Also, teaching your toddler to brush her teeth after meals is not a bad idea. And give her healthy food to eat such as apples and carrots in place of candy.
You should also cut back on bottled water and give your baby tap water instead since healthy teeth need fluoride to keep them hard and prevent decay.
Take your baby to the dentist as early as age 1 to give your dentist the best chance to diagnose problems early.
More info on the Web
Bottle Rot Syndrome – ePinions
Bottle Rot FAQS – Children’s hospital
DISCLAIMER: As always, any medical information published on this blog is not intended as a substitute for informed medical advice and you should not take any action before consulting with your personal physician or a health care provider.