Have you been giving your child a bottle of milk before bed then they fell asleep with the bottle in their mouth and there’s still milk left over or breastfeeding your baby to sleep and still holding on long after your baby already fell asleep? Parents are advised to stop letting your kids got to bed while drinking formula milk or while breastfeeding as prolonged exposure to sweetened liquid or natural sugars may lead your baby to develop nursing bottle syndrome which is the decay of baby teeth.
Parents need to refrain from letting their child fall asleep with a bottle in their mouth as it could lead unswallowed milk to remain in the baby’s mouth. The bacteria in the mouth would thrive on the sugar from the milk and produce acids that attack the teeth and causing tooth decay because less saliva is produced when a child sleeps!
“If your child is asleep for eight hours every night with milk residue in her mouth, her teeth are exposed to damage night after night. It’s typical that the upper front teeth are the first decay,” said Dr. Carina Delos Reyes, former president of the Philippine Pediatric Dental Society Inc. (PPDSI).
“The lower front teeth are protected from the contact with the milk as the tongue covers and protect them during bottle feeding,” she added.
Baby bottle tooth decay (BBTD) is actually the most common way for tooth decay to develop via exposure. BBTD results from teeth being coated in almost any liquid other than water for long periods most commonly occurs among babies who are put to bed with a bottle of formula or juice. Almost any liquid containing fermentable carbohydrate (sugar) could cause cavities if left undisturbed for long periods.
“Previously, research has shown that human milk, unlike cow’s milk, doesn’t cause cavities. However, some newer studies say that the sugar from breast milk may also cause decalcification,” explains Dr. Delos Reyes.
It is not impossible for baby bottle tooth decay to happen especially if there is unswallowed breastmilk in a baby’s mouth. Breastfeeding infants who fall asleep while nursing with unswallowed milk in their mouth are also vulnerable to tooth decay. However, breastfeeding mothers don’t overly worry, there is little evidence that breast milk alone can be a cause for cavities.
There are several ways to help parents out:
1. Remove your breast from your child’s mouth once she has fallen asleep.
This lessens the chances of milk pooling in her mouth overnight, you can also wipe your child’s teeth with a damp cloth after feeding and before bedtime.
2. Brush your child’s teeth.
Fluoridated toothpaste is the best protection against dental cavities. Parents should be used as soon as the first tooth erupts, you can always consult your dentist on how to pick the right toothpaste for your child and the proper way to brush teeth.
3. Teach your child to drink from a cup.
Parents should not use a bottle filled with milk, juice or any other sweetened liquid as a pacifier, and teach your child to drink from a cup as soon as possible, by 12 to 15 months of age, babies can start learning to drink from a cup.
A cup cannot be taken to bed, and drinking from a cup is less likely to cause liquid to collect around the teeth. Sweetened beverages like fruit and instant juice is not recommended for children below 2 years old.
Tooth decay is the most common chronic infectious disease of childhood, dentists everywhere are encouraging parents to schedule an appointment once the first tooth pops up. Parents better remember, as the first visit to the dentist is crucial where the dentist will make their initial assessment and parents are taught how to take proper care of your child’s teeth.