Your child is thirsty, so it is only second nature for us to hand them a glass of juice. But with all the sugar in the juice they drink, just how healthy is it for them have that second or third glass? Or even a bottle if they are still in that phase? Is milk any better, especially if we give it to them in a bottle? And, just how dangerous is it for us to give them bottle of juice or milk when they are going down for a nap.
Drinking from a bottle until the child falls asleep is understandable and usually a sure-fire way to lull your child to sleep, however you should never let your child sleep with the bottle in their mouth.
Almost everything we give our children to drink contains sugar. It doesn’t matter what it is – milk, formula or juice – it has sugar and sometimes that sugar is considerably higher than what is considered safe for our children to drink in the years their teeth are developing. Drinking from a cup allows the liquid to pass their teeth much like it would if they used a straw.
Using a bottle allows the liquid and sugar in that liquid to linger around their teeth and gums. The lingering liquid puts sugar in the mouth, which is broken down by bacteria and turns into acid. The acid then starts to eat at the enamel on the upper front teeth. If this is allowed to progress, your child’s teeth can be destroyed, with the decay going into their gums. When it reaches the gums, it can go up into the adult teeth. If it reaches the adult teeth, your child may suffer from crowded or crooked teeth and require braces and hours in the dentist’s office to attempt to repair the damage.
If you want to prevent the potential damage of baby bottle tooth decay, don’t let your child suckle on a bottle while they sleep. Just like you should sip on a soda or a cup of coffee all day, don’t allow your child to drink from a bottle all day. When you put a child to bed, you should only give them water in a bottle. Even milk can cause tooth decay.
Avoid giving your child anything with sugar in it in their favorite bottle. If they are not able to drink from anything other than a bottle, then they shouldn’t have the sugary drink. Even sugar water has the potential to cause tooth decay. Don’t dip your child’s pacifier into anything with sugar. If you have to dip it to encourage your child to take the pacifier, then perhaps a pacifier is not needed. Dipping the pacifier into a sugary drink is just as bad as drinking from a bottle. The sugar still stays in their mouth and can lead to decay.
Teach your child early to take care of their mouth. Even before they have teeth, you can wipe their gums with a damp washcloth. This will help them become accustomed to the feel on their gums. As their teeth come in, start using a soft baby toothbrush. Teach them the proper method for brushing their teeth. Also try to avoid using a fluoride toothpaste. Too much fluoride can also cause damage to their teeth.
Talk to your family dentist on the different methods to prevent baby bottle tooth decay early, so that your child can have a healthy mouth. Your pediatric dentist can help you with learning the best way to keep your child’s teeth safe from the liquids in their bottles.