BABY BOTTLE TOOTH DECAY – By Dr.Manasa
What is Nursing bottle caries/ Baby bottle tooth decay ?
It is tooth decay occuring in Infants and children till the age of 71months. Hence also reffered to as Early childhood caries.
Upper front teeth are commonly affected.
Why and How does nursing bottle caries occur?
Nursing bottle caries occur due to frequent, prolonged exposure of the baby’s teeth to drinks that contain sugar. Tooth decay can occur when the baby is put to bed with a bottle, or when a bottle is used as a pacifier for a fussy baby.
It is a disease that can begin with cavity-causing bacteria being passed from the mother (or primary caregiver) to the infant. These bacteria are passed through the saliva. When the mother puts the baby’s feeding spoon in her mouth, or cleans a pacifier in her mouth, the bacteria can be passed to the baby.
If your infant or toddler does not receive an adequate amount of fluoride, they may also have an increased risk for tooth decay.
At risk are children whose pacifiers are frequently dipped in sugar or syrup. Giving an infant a sugary drink at nap time or nighttime is particularly harmful because the flow of saliva decreases during sleep.
How to prevent Nursing bottle caries?
Think baby teeth are temporary, and therefore, not important? Think again. Baby teeth are necessary for chewing, speaking, and smiling. They also serve as placeholders for the adult teeth. If baby bottle tooth decay is left untreated, pain and infection can result. Severely decayed teeth may need to be removed.
If teeth are infected or lost too early due to baby bottle tooth decay, your child may develop poor eating habits, speech problems, crooked teeth, and damaged adult teeth. In addition, the chances that adult teeth will end up being crooked are greatly increased.
The good news is that a few simple steps can help stave off baby bottle tooth decay. They include implementing good oral hygiene at an early age. Here’s how:
• Wipe the baby’s gums with a clean gauze pad or washcloth after each feeding.
• Begin brushing your child’s teeth, without toothpaste, when his or her first tooth comes in.
• Clean and massage gums in areas without teeth.
• Floss once all the baby teeth have come in.
• Make sure your child is getting enough fluoride, which helps lessen cavities. If your local water supply does not contain fluoride, ask your dentist or doctor if you need to use a supplement.
• Avoid feeding sweets and orther sugar products in-between meals.
• Avoid overnight bottle feeding of milk/liquids such as sugar water, juice or soft drinks. Infants should finish their bedtime and nap time bottles before going to bed.
• Schedule regular dental visits by your child’s first birthday. Dentists also offer special sealant coatings, which can help prevent tooth decay in children.
Treatment of Nursing bottle caries :
Treatment varies based on your child’s age and the severity of the condition. At the earliest signs of a problem, you and your child’s dentist can work together to formulate an approach to management and treatment.
White spots on a tooth’s surface are early symptoms of baby bottle tooth decay. At this stage, fluoride treatment or placing fluoride varnish can be done to remineralize all of the teeth. This treatment actually reverses decay in its earliest stages by helping to rebuild the surface enamel. Your child’s dentist might also recommend fluoride supplements.
If decay is spotted at later stages, fluoride treatments will no longer be sufficient. Symptoms of more severe decay include:
- Brown or black spots / cavities on the teeth
- Bleeding or swollen gums
- Fever, swelling or irritability, which could indicate infection
If your child shows any of these symptoms, it’s imperative to see a dentist as soon as possible.
Dentist will carry out extensive restorative treatment for the affected teeth and place stainless steel crowns / remove (extract) badly decayed teeth follwed by space maintainers depending upon the severity of affected teeth.