By Brianne Jones, RDH
Tooth decay is an ever present danger for your babyâ€™s developing teeth. It begins with disease-causing bacteria feasting on leftover sugar, producing high levels of oral acid that slowly dissolves the teethâ€™s protective enamel. The softened enamel then becomes an open door for decay to infect the tooth.
Meanwhile, those bacteria continue to eat and produce acidâ€¦.
So how can you stop this devastating cycle? Besides daily oral hygiene and regular dental visits, the most important thing you can do is deprive bacteria in your babyâ€™s mouth of sugar through limiting their consumption of it. This means youâ€™ll first need to identify the different sources of sugar available to your babyâ€”and some of them might surprise you.
Here, then, are 3 not-so-obvious sugar sources your baby might be consuming.
During feeding. If youâ€™re breast-feeding, you may not think this is causing a sugar problem for your baby. True, breast milk by itself doesnâ€™t promote decay: itâ€™s the combination of it with other sugar-rich foods and liquids the baby might be consuming as they get older. Together this could significantly increase their risk of pediatric tooth decay (also known asÂ early childhood cariesÂ or ECC). So, be careful to limit sugar in other things theyâ€™re eating or drinking in addition to nursing.
24/7 Baby bottles and pacifiers. To calm infants at nap or sleep time, parents or caregivers often use bottles filled with sweet liquids or pacifiers dipped in jam, syrup or sugar. This practice increases decay risk from both the added sugar and its constant availability to bacteria in the mouth around the clock.Â Instead, avoid this practice and limit any sugary foods or liquids to mealtimes.
Medications. Some medications an infant may be taking for a chronic illness may contain small amounts of sugar. Additionally, medications like antihistamines can reduce the production of saliva thatâ€™s needed to neutralize acid after meals. If your child is on medication, ask your healthcare provider about its dental effects and if there are any sugar-free alternatives. Be sure to keep up daily brushing and flossing and regular dental visits too.
Limiting your babyâ€™s sugar intake is critical in preventing tooth decay. Itâ€™s one of the most important things you can do to protect their dental health.