Babies. They are quite vocal at times, aren't they? When they cry, parents do everything they can to try to figure out what is wrong. Sometimes, babies simply want to suckle. It's not that they are hungry, but the suckling action helps them self-soothe. Because of this natural instinct that babies have, many parents cave in and put their baby's down to sleep with a bottle. But doing so can damage their precious little teeth. Here's what every new parent needs to know.
Baby bottle mouth syndrome can happen fast
As the baby drinks from the bottle, the liquids will pool in the mouth around the teeth. These means that the sugars and acids that are in the formula, breast milk, and juices will sit right against their teeth. The bacteria that is naturally in your baby's mouth will mix with the sugars and acids.
This creates a sticky substance on the teeth called plaque, which causes the dental enamel to dissolve. Without the protective layer of enamel, the teeth are prone to decay. And if this continues on a regular basis, especially each time the baby is put down for a nap and at bedtime, this can cause an extremely rapid decaying of the teeth. Typically, the first signs of this type of damage occur behind the front teeth.
Before you see discoloration in the front of the teeth, the back of the teeth may be extremely decayed to the point that the dental pulp and root may be exposed, which can cause intense pain for your baby. And unless you figure out that their teeth are bothering them, you might give them another bottle filled with the harmful substances that will just make matters worse. Baby bottle mouth syndrome can get severe enough that a baby would need to have their teeth extracted as a dental emergency.
Keep your baby's teeth clean & healthy
Hopefully, you are reading this article before baby bottle mouth syndrome has begun. The best way to avoid this condition is to give your baby a pacifier or put water in the baby's bottle when your baby wants to suckle to self-soothe until they fall asleep. If your baby is hungry, by all means put formula or breast milk in the bottle. But do not allow your baby to fall asleep with those fluids in their mouth. Use a washcloth to wipe the liquid away from their teeth before giving them a pacifier or a bottle of water.
Treatment for baby teeth with caries is needed immediately
The teeth that are affected by baby bottle mouth syndrome will need to be treated as soon as possible before the baby starts showing signs of pain. If your baby cries or screams when he or she tries to suck on a bottle, it is a good time to get an emergency appointment at a dental clinic like Family Dental Care. Obviously, if your baby is in too much pain to drink from a bottle or to nurse, your baby won't get the nutrients they need to continue to grow and thrive.
Treatments include extraction of the affected teeth or the placement of crowns over the damaged teeth to protect them. Teeth will need to be extracted if the pulp and/or root is exposed. If a tooth is extracted, a spacer will need to be used to prevent the remaining teeth from migrating into the opening where the damaged tooth was removed. If the teeth are allowed to migrate, the adult teeth will not have enough room, which can cause crowding and the adult teeth to erupt too far forward or too far behind.