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Woman feeding baby with a bottle

The health benefits of breastfeeding are widely known, from a stronger infant immune system to a reduced risk of breast cancer for mom. But for women who can’t nurse or who choose to pump, the “mom guilt” is all too real! Suddenly it seems like everything is doomed to go wrong for your baby, including his or her dental development. 

Here at Smiles Dentistry for Kids in Overland Park, KS, we understand that the decision to breastfeed your child is a highly personal one. While Drs. Matt and Craven can’t deny the health benefits of nursing, they also know that there are a variety of factors that will influence your decision. And ultimately we know that it is your decision. Baby bottles, used improperly, can increase the risk of dental problems. But with proper precautions, there is no reason your child shouldn’t enjoy a lifelong health smile

To learn more or to schedule an appointment for your child, contact Smiles Dentistry for Kids today.

Baby Bottle Tooth Decay Is a Legitimate Concern

Baby bottle tooth decay (also known as early childhood caries) is an unfortunately common condition. Cavities typically affect the upper front teeth. However, the name is a bit of a misnomer because breastfed babies can also suffer from baby bottle tooth decay (albeit, it is less likely). Moreover, baby tooth decay doesn’t happen because of a bottle per se. Rather, it occurs when baby or toddler teeth have prolonged exposure to sugary liquids (including formula and breast milk)

Early childhood tooth cavities can also develop when a mother passes on cavity-causing bacteria or when a child does not have enough fluoride intake. Interestingly, children with a traumatic birth or a high-risk pregnancy are more likely to suffer from early dental decay.

Preventing Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

You can easily reduce the risk baby bottle tooth decay with a few simple steps:

  • Never put your baby to bed with a bottle (even one containing breast milk).
  • Make sure your child swallows breast milk before falling asleep. 
  • Never put juice or sugary beverages in a bottle. 
  • Don’t use the bottle as a pacifier. 
  • Before your child starts teething, wipe down his or her gums at least once a day with a soft cloth.
  • After the first tooth comes in, start brushing, using a soft brush and a toothpaste that contains fluoride. 
  • Also after the first tooth comes in, or by the first birthday, schedule your child’s first visit with a pediatric dentist.
  • Do not share eating utensils with your child.
  • Clean pacifiers with soap and hot water, never your mouth. 

Bottles, Dental Alignment, and Speech Delays 

Both bottles and pacifiers can cause dental alignment issues, including crooked teeth, jaw misalignment, and a narrowed palate. And, in turn, this can affect the way that your child learns to speak. 

However, be aware that this only applies to older children. As long as you wean your baby from bottles and pacifiers around 12 months, you are unlikely to see any permanent effects. 

Contact Us for Non-Judgmental, Family-Centered Care

We know parenting can be incredibly stressful, and we are here to make the task easier for you. To visit a compassionate, supportive pediatric dentist, contact our Overland Park office today.

Reach us online or call us at (913) 685-9990. 

Smiles Dentistry For Kids

14700 Metcalf Ave, Suite 110
Overland Park, KS 66223
(913) 685-9990
8:00am - 4:30pm
8:00am - 4:30pm
8:00am - 4:30pm
8:00am - 4:30pm
8:00am - 4:30pm

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