We take everyone’s dental health seriously at our Rochester office. That includes caring for our youngest patients who are just starting to get their first set of teeth. We see far too many cases of children whose dental health has suffered because their parent’s didn’t believe their baby teeth were important, and it’s our mission to see an end to that!
One of the most common problems that happen to young children is called nursing bottle syndrome, or NBS. It’s a condition caused by too much time spent drinking from their bottle. It might sound catastrophic, but there’s some good news: it’s entirely preventable.
Nursing Bottle Syndrome: What Exactly Is It?
Your child’s bottle can be a great way to quiet them down when they’re being fussy, but it could also be causing the development of severe cavities and premature tooth loss.
Just like your mouth, your child’s is filled with bacteria. When that bacteria comes in contact with sugar – like the kind in your child’s formula, milk, and juice – it causes acids that form cavities. If your child is allowed to have a bottle for longer than they should they’ll likely end up with serious cavities on their front few teeth. That’s nursing bottle symptom in a nutshell.
How Does Nursing Bottle Syndrome Happen?
As we mentioned above, NBS happens due to too much bottle exposure. When your child is given a bottle containing milk, juice, or formula you’re putting their teeth at risk, especially if they have that bottle for over 20 minutes.
One of the biggest bottle mistakes that parents make is letting their child fall asleep with a bottle. Many children will drink until falling asleep and end up with a mouth full of liquid while they’re napping. This results in near constant sugar exposure, allowing the bacteria in their mouths to continually produce acids that attack and destroy their teeth.
Why Baby Teeth Are So Essential
They’re only there for a few years, but baby teeth do a lot to prepare your child for their permanent set. Baby teeth act like placeholders for adult ones, and when they’re lost prematurely your child can end up losing space, leading to crowding, crooked teeth, and even eruption above the gumline.
Baby teeth that end up with severe cavities may not fall out, but they can cause infection that damages gum tissue and unerupted teeth. If a baby tooth becomes decayed it can be necessary to extract it and place orthodontic retention devices. These treatments can be expensive and are ultimately unnecessary if your child’s oral health is looked after while they’re young!
How To Prevent Nursing Bottle Syndrome
It doesn’t have to be difficult to keep those baby teeth under control. By following a few simple rules you can help your child’s teeth stay healthy for as long as they have them.
- Make sure your child doesn’t keep their bottle for more than 20 minutes at a time. This is one of the primary reasons that NBS happens.
- Never let your child fall asleep with their bottle. This leads to even greater chances of tooth decay.
- The extra calories your child gets from formula, juice, and milk served between meals is unnecessary. The best thing for them to drink during the day is water. If you give them a bottle full of water you can definitely leave it with them for more than 20 minutes.
- Children should be weaned off their bottle starting between 12 and 14 months.
- Practice oral hygiene with your child before they even have their first tooth. A simple wiping of their gums twice a day can promote oral health and get them used to the ideal of brushing later on.
- Once your child starts growing teeth advance them to assisted brushing. They won’t be able to do it on their own for a few years, but you can do it for them. This promotes good habits that will last a lifetime!
The Most Important Piece Of The Puzzle
When your child gets their first tooth you need to start thinking about their dental future. We should see your child by their first birthday whether they have that first tooth or not. Starting out their dental care experience while they’re young is yet another proven way to keep their teeth healthy for life.
Don’t mess around with your child’s oral health. If they’re nearing that first birthday call Northwest Dental Group to schedule an appointment today! You can reach us at 507-315-2932 or you can request an appointment online. We look forward to seeing you soon!