The decay of a child’s primary teeth caused by the use of a bottle filled with sugary liquid is known as baby bottle mouth. This condition occurs when a child is permitted to go to bed with a bottle filled with anything other than water. The liquid pools around the teeth and gums. As plaque forms the enamel of the tooth is broken down until decay occurs. Decay that results from Baby Bottle Mouth usually first appears on the front teeth and then works back to the molars. Children are susceptible to Baby Bottle Mouth if they are fed bottles of sugary beverages several times a day; any prolonged contact with a sugary substance puts a child at risk of developing Baby Bottle Mouth.
Dental decay causes pain, inflammation, fever, irritability and infection in the child. Treatment of the condition ranges from removing the decay and filling the holes to placing crowns on the teeth to extraction of the primary teeth. Each of these treatments puts the child at risk. Young children are especially vulnerable to infections and the weakened immune system that occurs as a result of the continual fight against an oral infection put the child at risk of developing other serious illness; including the flu, pneumonia and bronchitis. There is also the risk posed by the administering of local anesthetics and the placement of metal crowns in a child’s mouth. If the teeth must be extracted, there is a significant risk that the nutritional needs of the child will not be met.
Baby Bottle Mouth can inhibit the development of the child’s adult teeth. Often, adult teeth will be crooked or discolored. The child is also at risk of developing other oral conditions later in life, including more dental caries and gum disease. Speech problems, ear infections and nutritional deficiencies occur in higher concentrations in children who develop Baby Bottle Mouth.
The good news is that this serious ailment is 100% preventable. Avoid feeding children sugary drinks from a bottle. Always clean the child’s teeth and gum tissue after feeding. Encourage the child to drink from a cup at an early age. Never put a child to bed with anything other than water. Brush the child’s teeth and begin flossing as early as two years of age. Ensure the child receives regular dental examinations.