Every parent wants to do what’s best for their child, and that includes the best foods and drinks to help them stay healthy. As soon as your child is capable of holding their own bottle and drinking they’re sure never be far from it, so you fill it with premium formula, milk, and vitamin-packed juices. But are those things really what’s best for your young ones?
There’s a condition called nursing bottle syndrome, or NBS, and it primarily affects children ages five and younger. It’s caused by the sugars in milk, formula, and juice that you might be feeding your child right now. At Panama City Smiles we don’t want your child’s dental future to be decided so early because they got too much sugar!
Nursing Bottle Syndrome: What Is It?
When your child drinks milk, formula, or juice they’re being exposed to a lot of sugar – yes, even in milk! Those sugars cause tooth decay, and for young children constantly nursing a bottle it can be really serious, especially if they fall asleep with it.
Children who fall asleep with their bottles have much higher rates of tooth decay since a bit of liquid can stay in the mouth. Most of the decay caused by NBS is in the first few teeth in the front of the mouth because that’s where the liquid makes the most contact with the teeth. Falling asleep with liquid in the mouths, however, makes things that much more severe.
It’s not uncommon for children suffering from NBS to almost completely lose their front teeth. In many cases they’re decayed to the point that there’s no crown left – just a root – which can lead to infection, abscess, and serious pain for your young ones.
How To Prevent Nursing Bottle Syndrome
There are quite a few steps you can take to prevent NBS and manage early childhood cavities, and most are incredibly simple. Your child might not be pleased with some of these simple routine changes early on, but their health depends on sticking to them!
- Don’t let your child hang on to a bottle for more than 20 minutes at a time. After that take it away from them.
- Never let your child fall asleep with a bottle. That’s the time when oral bacteria in their mouths can do the most damage.
- Most children eat two to three times a day, and in reality they shouldn’t be getting anything to drink besides water between meal times. Giving them a bottle of water between meals can keep them hydrated and even help manage oral bacteria by washing it away!
- A child should be weaned off of their bottle by 12 to 14 months of age. Gradually switch them to a spillproof cup. These are ideal because the liquid isn’t as concentrated on their front few teeth.
- Make sure that you’re cleaning your child’s mouth after each meal. Food particles containing sugar interact with their oral bacteria, which creates cavity-causing acids. A clean mouth is a healthy mouth, even before they sprout teeth!
- Be sure you’re seeing a qualified pediatric dentist as soon as your child has their first tooth. Numerous studies show that early preventive care leads to better habits as children grow up.
Are Baby Teeth Really That Important?
Baby teeth are just as important as adult teeth, and their health from eruption to loss is essential for a healthy, properly aligned adult smile. Baby teeth act as placeholders for the permanent ones that come in later, and if lost prematurely the necessary spaces can actually close up!
Children who lose baby teeth before their permanent ones are ready to erupt tend to need expensive orthodontic work, have trouble with oral hygiene, and deal with a lifetime of dental problems. No parent wants to leave their child a legacy of poor oral health, and the foundation you lay starts today!
Don’t Let Your Child’s Teeth Fall To Nursing Bottle Syndrome
At Panama City Smiles we generally start seeing patients around the age of five. Most cases of nursing bottle syndrome start before that, but we’re more than happy to ensure your child’s continued oral health earlier if needed.
Take this opportunity to give your child a bright, healthy set of teeth for the future. Give our Panama City office a call at 850-588-0185 or request an appointment for them online. We look forward to helping you and your family maintain great smiles for life!