Baby Bottle Tooth Decay
Thursday August 6, 1998
Dear Doctor: My 18-month-old son has recently developed dark brown spots all over his front teeth and they seem to be chipping away. What do you think the problem could be? -Concerned Mom
It sounds like your child has classic baby bottle tooth decay. It can destroy the teeth and most often occurs in the upper front teeth of infants and small children, but other teeth can be affected.
This type of destruction occurs when sweetened liquids soak on an infant's teeth for a long period of time. Common examples are milk, formula and fruit juice.
Existing bacteria in the mouth feed on these sugars, producing acids that attack the teeth. What is important to understand is that it's not just what you put in your child's bottle but how often, and for how long.
Sweetened liquids several times a day at short intervals is not a good idea. Also, allowing your child to fall asleep with a bottle at naps of bedtime can cause harm to the teeth.
It is important to make these baby teeth last so that children can chew well, speak and have a nice smile. Baby teeth also help keep space for adult teeth. If a baby tooth is lost early, the teeth beside it may drift, limiting room for adult teeth. This can result in teeth that are crooked or crowded.
If you have any concerns, visit your dentist. Your child may be referred to a pediatric dentist who specializes in areas like this.
This column is reprinted with the permission of the author and The Windsor Star. "Ask the Dentist" is written by Windsor dentist (and ECDS member), Dr. David Mady Jr.. The column appears the first Thursday of each month in the Windsor Star. Readers with questions can write to "Ask The Dentist", c/o The Windsor Star, 167 Ferry St., Windsor Ontario, N9A 4M5