“Baby-bottle” tooth decay (now called “early childhood caries”), is related to several factors, such as sugar (carbohydrates), frequency of sugar exposure, and bacteria. Children who go to bed with a bottle of milk, formula or juice are more likely to get tooth decay because the teeth are constantly in contact with sugar. For the same reason, children who are breastfed “on-demand” are at a higher risk of developing decay. Frequent snacking during the day also increases the risk of decay.
Here are some tips to avoid early childhood caries:
- If necessary, put your child to bed with a bottle of plain water, not milk or juice.
- Stop nursing when your child is asleep..
- Try not to let your child walk around using a bottle of milk or juice as a pacifier..
- Start to teach your child to drink from a cup at about 6 months of age. Plan to stop using a bottle by 12 to 14 months at the latest..
- Don’t dip your child’s pacifier in honey or sugar..