Does Going to Bed with a Bottle Cause Cavities?

You’re tired, you just want to go to sleep, and you know that if you put baby down with a bottle, she will go to sleep easily so you can head off to bed yourself. Every mother has been there, doing whatever it takes to get some rest. Unfortunately, putting baby to bed with a bottle can do serious damage to her teeth.

Tooth Decay and Baby Bottles

Early childhood tooth decay can happen in a number of ways, but the most common and often the most severe of these is known as baby bottle tooth decay. It results when liquids containing natural sugars, such as formula, breast milk and juices, are left on the teeth while baby sleeps. This form of tooth decay can also occur in breast fed babies, even if they do not take a bottle, but breastfeed on demand during the night after the first tooth appears. Putting your baby to bed with a bottle is a major risk factor for baby bottle tooth decay.

Tooth decay in babies may start off mild, but can quickly progress to a very serious problem. It can result in infection and in your child losing one or more teeth.

The Importance of Baby Teeth

Although baby teeth are only temporary, they play a very important role in your child’s development. Your baby needs them not only to eat, but also to develop normal speech. Baby teeth are also place holders for adult teeth. If they are lost too soon, the adult teeth may come in crooked. The loss of baby teeth can not only harm your baby’s smile now, but her adult smile as well,

Preventing Tooth Decay in Babies

The American Dental Association offers some recommendations on how to avoid tooth decay in your baby. One of the major recommendations is that you avoid putting baby to bed with a bottle. That isn’t the only important precaution you should take, however.

Sugary drinks such as juices should be kept to a minimum during the day, and avoided entirely at night. In fact, unless your doctor has recommended juice for a problem such as dehydration or constipation, there is no real reason for a baby to have juice at all. Ensure that baby finishes his bottle entirely prior to a nap or bedtime, and gently wipe his teeth with a clean piece of gauze before you put him down.

Start a dental hygiene routine as soon as baby’s first tooth appears. Contrary to previous recommendations against using fluoride toothpaste, the ADA now recommends using a baby toothpaste containing fluoride right from the start to protect and strengthen teeth. You should get in the habit of brushing baby’s teeth at least twice a day, and wiping teeth after each feeding.

As soon as your baby is able to do so, you should tech him to start drinking from a cup and avoid trainer or “sippy” cups as much as possible. Consumption of sugary beverages throughout the day should be discouraged. If your child is thirsty, offer a drink of water.

The ADA recommends that you take your child to see a dentist as soon as his first tooth erupts. You can take him to your own dentist, or find a pediatric dentist who specializes in children.

Taking care of your baby’s teeth from the moment they first appear will ensure he has a healthy smile for a lifetime.

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