If you are the parent of a toddler who still drinks from a bottle, it may be best to wean your little one as soon as possible. Prolonged use of the bottle is associated with dental health issues. Here are a few details about the decay that may be caused by prolonged bottle use and a few tips to help you wean your youngster:
Although milk and juice are filled with vitamins and minerals, they also contain a significant amount of sugar. For milk, the sugar is lactose, and for juice, it is fructose. Both sugars are considered simple sugars, which are easily digested by oral bacteria.
As the bacteria feed on the sugars in your child's mouth, they excrete acid, which eats away at your little one's tooth enamel. This dissolution of the enamel results in tooth decay. Tooth decay that is caused by baby bottle usage is aptly called baby bottle decay.
Not only do many parents give their child a bottle during normal feeding times, but they may also offer it as a soothing mechanism before bedtime. When a child rests, his or her swallowing reflex and saliva production relax. This means that the milk or juice in the child's mouth is not swallowed or diluted. Instead, it pools, bathing the youngster's teeth and gums in a sugary solution.
For this reason, it is best to avoid offering a bottle at nap times or just before bed. However, the restriction may not sound easy if your child is accustomed to the practice.
Here are a few tips for weaning your toddler from bottle:
- Only offer water in the bottle. Since it is basically tasteless, your child may be less prone to ask for the bottle. In addition, water does not contain sugar or promote tooth decay. In fact, it often contains fluoride, which can help your child's teeth better resist the ravages of bacterial acid.
- Give your child an orthodontic pacifier for soothing. If your child needs oral stimulation to calm down, offer a pacifier instead of a bottle. The orthodontic device can offer the comfort of sucking without exposure to decay-causing sugar.
- Give your child a cup at mealtimes. Offering your child a cup at mealtimes can help him or her become accustomed to using a cup when he or she is thirstiest.
To learn more about dental health concerns that are related to bottle usage, schedule a consultation with a pediatric dentist at a location like New England Dental Specialists of Norwood in your area.