Beware of the Bedtime Bottle

by Noelle Reinhold 2/9/2016 8:15 AM


Wouldn’t it be wonderful, if you had the time each and every night, to give your little loved one a bath, read her a book and feed her a bottle, before laying her down and looking on as she falls into a deep, sweet sleep?

While this scenario probably occurs on occasion, the regular routine likely includes the dog barking, an older sibling squabble and the desire to lie her down with a bottle so she can suck it down as she falls asleep and you can tackle your next task. But, don’t do it.

Putting a small child to bed for the night, or even just for a nap, with a bottle (or sippy cup) filled with formula, milk or juice can lead to what is known as Baby Bottle Tooth Decay. This type of decay occurs when sugar containing liquids pool around the teeth and gums for a prolonged period of time, allowing cavity-causing bacteria to thrive. It is said to hit the upper front teeth the hardest, but it has been known to affect other teeth too. 

Follow these tips to avoid Baby Bottle Tooth Decay:

  • • Between meals and at bedtime, put only water in your child's sippy cup or bottle.
  • • Only allow juice and milk with meals - not for sipping all day long. 

Beyond considering the contents of your child's bottle, you can also commit to helping your child establish and maintain good oral health habits by remaining mindful of the following:

  • • Once a child is born, begin taking care of the baby’s gums by gently wiping them each day with a soft washcloth. There is no need for toothpaste yet. Simply moisten the cloth or a piece of gauze, wrap it around the index finger and gently rub over the gums.
  • • When the first tooth appears (around six months of age), begin using a soft bristle baby tooth brush or finger toothbrush, along with a tiny dab of toothpaste no larger than a grain of rice, twice daily to brush the teeth, gums and tongue.
  • • Within six months of the first tooth erupting or by age one, take your child to the dentist. During the first dental appointment the dentist will examine the child’s mouth, check growth and development, and educate the parent on topics ranging from thumb-sucking to proper brushing techniques. It also serves as a means to enable the child to become comfortable with visiting the dentist regularly.
  • • As the child ages, stick to the basics of brushing twice daily, flossing, using mouthwash and visit the dentist every six months.

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