Does Bottle-feeding Cause Cavities?
When raising a newborn, you are faced with many confounding choices. Choosing between breastfeeding and bottle-feeding is one of them. Whichever you choose, at some point in time your child will use a bottle. It’s important to know what will cause and what won’t cause cavities.
In a nutshell, bottle-feeding will not cause cavities; however, the contents of the bottle and how the baby is fed can cause cavities. The sugars, natural or added, found in milk and formulas come in contact with your baby’s teeth. When sugar is exposed to teeth for long periods of time it can trigger the bacteria in the mouth to produce acid. Too many of these “acid attacks” will break down the enamel which can cause pain, infection, and tooth decay.
How to Prevent Bottle-tooth Decay
Your baby needs nutrition. During the first year of life, that nutrition may be delivered through a bottle numerous times. So, how do you ensure your baby gets nutrients without causing cavities? Here are some tips:
- Regularly clean your child’s teeth using a soft brush and water. If they don’t have teeth yet, a gauze pad can be used.
- Don’t feed your child in bed. Letting your child go to bed with juice, milk, or formula exposes her/his teeth to bacterial acid all night. If you have to, use a dentist-approved pacifier to help your child get to sleep.
- Don’t give your child sugar between meals. Give juice only at mealtimes. This will minimize the length of time the enamel is exposed to acid. Adding water to juice is also a good idea.
- Give your child water. Encourage your child to drink water any time they are thirsty in between meals and again after meals and snacks are finished. This will help to wash and cleanse the mouth.
- See a dentist. According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry website (www.aapd.org), your child should visit a pediatric dentist somewhere between six to 12 months of age.