One serious form of decay among young children is baby bottle tooth decay. Milk from an animal and breast milk naturally contain sugars. In addition, formula and some nut milks also contain sugars. Drinking from a breast nipple or a bottle nipple allows the sugary liquid to pool around all surfaces of the teeth, unlike drinking from a cup. When sweet liquids pool around the child’s teeth, plaque bacteria have an opportunity to produce acids that attack tooth enamel for longer periods of time. Depending on the dental stage, crowding, quality of the enamel, and anatomy of the teeth, prolonged breast and bottle feeding can cause cavities in infants. Furthermore, putting a baby to bed for a nap or at night with a bottle other than water can cause serious and rapid tooth decay.
If you must give the baby a bottle as a comforter at bedtime, it should contain only water. If your child won’t fall asleep without the bottle of milk or formula, gradually dilute the bottle’s contents with water over a period of two to three weeks. Dr. Espinosa supports a mother’s choice to breastfeed. Unfortunately, many mothers do not realize breastfeeding can cause severe cavities in infants, especially if feeding at liberty throughout the day and throughout the night. This risk increases greatly the older the patient becomes, the longer they have been eating a solid food diet, and the more teeth that have erupted in the mouth. Please consult with Dr. Espinosa as she can help guide the proper preventative measures to take in order to counteract the risk of toddler and young children breastfeeding. In addition, Dr. Espinosa highly recommends that her patients do not drink juice or soda as the acid and natural or processed sugar content is too concentrated for primary teeth. If juice, Pediasure, or Pedialyte has been recommended by your pediatrician for health reasons, please consult with Dr. Espinosa to help develop a schedule and preventive regimen to counteract these dental risks.
Sippy cups should be used as a training tool from the bottle to a cup and should be discontinued by the first birthday. If your child uses a sippy cup throughout the day, fill the sippy cup with water only. Sippy cups allow the liquid to pool and soak all surfaces of the teeth similar to a bottle or nipple, putting their teeth at higher risk for cavities if liquid other than water is used. Dr. Espinosa likes straw cups or 360 degree cups that aid a parent in preventing spills, yet trains the lip and tongue musculature to mimic drinking from a cup.