BABY BOTTLE SYNDROME
Inappropriate feeding of children can lead to rampant tooth decay termed Baby Bottle Syndrome (BBS). Many parents allow their children to fall asleep while drinking sugared milk or juices and this will lead to tooth decay. This is a very devastating type of tooth decay for young patients and their parents. And there is a misconception that: because these are “baby teeth”, they do not need to be treated since they will change them for permanent ones. However, deciduous (baby) teeth are important for your child’s well being. They are needed to chew and also to hold the space for permanent teeth. Water fluoridation and other methods of fluoride application have resulted in a reduced rate of cavities.
How do I know if my child has baby bottle syndrome?
Your child’s pediatrician should be looking for early signs and we recommend that your child should have their 1st visit at the dentist when they turn 3 years old. At 3 they usually have all of their deciduous (baby) teeth, 20, and it is a good time to get them in the habit of visiting the dentist at least every 6 months.
How to prevent BBS
- Infants should be put to sleep with a bottle containing only water, no sugar products
- Infants should be encouraged to drink from a cup prior to their first birthday
- Infants should be weaned from the bottle at 12-14 months of age
- Juices should be offered from a cup and can be mixed with water to lower sugar concentration
- Oral hygiene should be started with eruption of the first primary tooth. You can start their hygiene by cleaning their teeth with clean gauze.
What is the treatment for BBS?
The treatment options for established BBS vary depending on how far the disease has progressed. Very early detection of demineralization on teeth, chalky white spots or lines, may be able to remineralize with fluoride application and diet modification. The first dental visit will help to evaluate your child’s caries risk and a mode of disease prevention will be part of your child’s treatment plan. If decay reaches the pulp chamber, pulp therapy (root canals) or extractions will need to be considered. Young non-cooperative children may need sedation or general anesthesia to accomplish treatment.