Pediatric dentistry is an area of dentistry that focuses on the oral health of children. Starting good dental hygiene habits early in life is important. As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states, more than 50% of children under the age of nine have had at least one cavity in their baby teeth, and…
Signs of Baby Bottle Tooth Decay
Baby bottle tooth decay, also called early childhood caries, are dental cavities that occur in infants and toddlers when the enamel erodes away from the surface of primary teeth. It is important to understand the signs of baby bottle tooth decay and seek prompt care from a dentist if the signs begin to show.
What are the signs of baby bottle tooth decay?
The most notable signs of baby bottle tooth decay are tooth discoloration, gum irritation, tooth sensitivity and pain, bad breath, swollen gums, and fever. The following is a more detailed look at each symptom and why they are considered to be a sign of baby bottle tooth decay.
When baby bottle tooth decay occurs, the enamel of baby teeth may begin to turn a white shade that is inconsistent with the rest of the baby teeth. This is a sign that the enamel is beginning to weaken as a result of acidic attacks caused by bacteria and sugars in the mouth. The discoloration may turn to a brown or black color once the weakened enamel develops into a cavity.
Gum irritation commonly occurs at the same time or right before baby bottle tooth decay. The same acidic attacks that can damage baby teeth can also cause irritation to the gums, which leads to gums that are discolored and sensitive and that bleed when they are lightly brushed.
Tooth sensitivity and pain
Detecting the cause of sensitivity and pain in toddlers is not always easy as crying could occur for a variety of reasons. However, if your child is fussier than usual and they have other symptoms of baby bottle tooth decay, then they may be in discomfort due to an oral health concern.
The acidic attack that causes baby bottle tooth decay is brought on by a build-up of bacteria, usually in the form of plaque and tartar. This bacteria releases a foul-smelling odor, which subsequently produces bad breath. Consequently, bad breath should be taken seriously and properly diagnosed.
Swollen gums can result from gum irritation, or it could be a sign of an oral infection that is related to baby bottle tooth decay. Swollen gums should not be ignored and prompt care should be provided, especially if the swelling lasts for multiple days.
A fever can also occur if the baby bottle tooth decay leads to a tooth infection. Of course, all fevers are serious, especially if caused by a tooth infection as the issue is not likely to resolve itself without dental treatment.
Frequently asked questions about baby bottle tooth decay
The following are three common questions that pediatric dentists receive about baby bottle tooth decay. Specifically, we provide answers to the causes, treatment, and prevention of baby bottle tooth decay.
What is the cause of baby bottle tooth decay?
The baby bottle itself is usually not the cause of tooth decay in toddlers. Instead, it is often the sugar-filled liquids inside of them that contribute to tooth decay. Common drinks that can increase the risk of baby bottle tooth decay include fruit juices and soft drinks. Milk actually helps to prevent baby bottle tooth decay as the calcium can strengthen the minerals that make up the dental enamel.
What are the treatment options for baby bottle tooth decay?
If the baby bottle tooth decay is minor — meaning the enamel has not eroded away but is only weakened — then fluoride may be all that is needed to strengthen the enamel and prevent cavities. For more severe tooth decay, the child may need a dental filling or a dental crown to protect the tooth.
How can I help prevent baby bottle tooth decay?
The primary goal for pediatric dentists is to help parents prevent tooth decay in their children. The risk of baby bottle tooth decay can be substantially reduced by encouraging your child to drink from a cup as early as possible, ideally by their first birthday. When using a baby bottle, it is best to limit sugar-filled beverages. Of course, brushing and flossing your child’s teeth and gums is important as well.
Is your child experiencing signs of baby bottle tooth decay?
Our pediatric dentistry office offers cavity treatment for children that have baby bottle tooth decay. In addition, we offer preventive and educational services to assist parents in keeping their child’s teeth as clean and healthy as possible, which greatly reduces the risk of early childhood caries.
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