It is essential to keep a child’s teeth healthy in order to promote your child’s overall health and well-being. Childhood caries or baby bottle tooth decay (BBTD) occurs because the teeth are in constant contact with sugars from milk, fruit juice, formula and other drinks. Breast milk can even cause tooth decay. The liquids break down in the mouth and they form into simple sugars. When they are allowed to stay in the mouth, bacteria starts to feed on the sugars thus causing tooth decay.

It is important to prevent tooth decay because it can be very uncomfortable for your child. Preventing tooth decay also paves the way for healthy teeth. There is a great chance that a child’s permanent teeth can grow crooked or crowded if baby teeth are damaged. In order to prevent dental caries, here are some quick tips:

1. Offer bottle only during meals. Never use the bottle as a pacifier or as a means to comfort the child. Bottles and pacifiers should not be used on extended periods because it may only promote growth of bacteria causing tooth decay.

2. Introduce the use of cups once your child has reached one year old. If your child can learn how to use the cup early, it will also lessen the chances that he will develop dental caries. Drinking from a cup will not allow the liquid to stay around the teeth thus it prevents dental caries. There are commercially available cups that are convenient because they are spill proof or they have snap on lids which prevent spilling

3. Start brushing your child’s teeth with an infant toothbrush after the first tooth has erupted. This plays an important part in preventing tooth decay. If your baby still doesn’t have teeth, you can clean his mouth using a wet cloth or gauze. If done after every feeding, this will help remove excess sugar and bacteria that have built up on the gums. If your child has reached two years old, brush his teeth once or twice a day. Once he learns how to spit, begin using fluoride toothpaste. Use only a small amount because there is a tendency that your child may accidentally swallow it.

4. Do not add sugar to your baby’s food. Avoid as well dipping your baby’s pacifier in any sugary liquid, honey or sugar. This will only promote growth of bacteria.

5. Avoid putting your child to bed with a bottle. Once your child has reached 7 or 8 months, he may no longer need feedings during the night. However, some children may still prefer to use the bottle at night since they have grown accustomed to having it. Gradually adjust his feeding pattern in a way that, he will no longer need a night feeding.

6. It is may also help if you start to bring your child to the dentist once he turns one year old, or if you notice that there is a need to do so. Discuss with your dentist regarding your child’s fluoride needs. It is also important to know if your drinking water is fluoridated. Otherwise, your dentist may recommend fluoride supplements and treatments.

These are only very quick tips to follow in preventing dental caries in early childhood. Parents need to take oral care seriously in order to promote growth of healthy permanent teeth, and to prevent dental problems later on.