There’s a problem facing a lot of parents out there who don’t realize the risks to their children’s teeth. It’s called Nursing Bottle Syndrome, or NBS, and it can completely devastate your child’s teeth as early as the age of two or three.
NBS is caused by the formula, juice, and milk that you’re putting in your child’s bottle. Once you’ve weaned them off of breastfeeding or early formula they can be given their bottle directly, which is a common step in their development. But it’s what’s in that bottle that could be so dangerous.
We see children of all ages at Edgewood Dental Care, and one thing we never want to see is a young child with a destroyed smile. Regular family dental care at our office can do a lot to protect your child’s smile, but that isn’t all you need to consider: it’s the safety of home habits too.
Nursing Bottle Syndrome: What Is It?
A lot of the stuff you put in your child’s bottle is designed to be healthy and helpful, right? Yes, but that doesn’t always mean they’re getting the bad along with the good. We’re talking about sugar.
A lot of the formula, milk, and juice that your child is getting contains added sugar, and over time that can cause serious oral health problems. The cavities your child gets early can even contribute to problems later in life!
When you give your child a bottle there’s a good possibility they’re going to hang onto it for a while, and that’s where the biggest problem comes in. Prolonged exposure to drinks that contain sugar increase the likelihood that cavities develop. The potential for cavities to form is even greater if your child falls asleep with their bottle – remnants of their drink stay in their mouth for longer, creating worse acid attacks.
It’s not uncommon to see children with NBS have teeth decayed down to the gumline. Baby teeth are sensitive and can decay at an alarming rate, making NBS a serious risk for parents who don’t keep an eye on their child’s bottle habit.
Early Childhood Decay: How Serious Can It Be?
NBS-related cavities generally form before the age of five, and can often cost your child one or more teeth. But those teeth are just going to fall out anyways, right? How bad can a baby tooth cavity be? The unfortunate answer isn’t what you might think: they’re serious.
Like we mentioned, cavities in baby teeth can often cause loss of the tooth. When baby teeth are lost prematurely your child is likely to have trouble when their adult teeth start to erupt. Each individual baby tooth is reserving space for its successor, and if it’s lost early that space simply won’t hold!
Children who deal with premature tooth loss are more likely to need braces, have future dental problems, and face a life of constant battling against cavities and gum disease. It’s important to make sure that oral health is emphasized as early as possible, that means as soon as your child gets that first tooth!
Preventing Nursing Bottle Syndrome
“How in the world can I stop this?” It’s a common question we get from parents who we talk to about the risks of NBS. After all, what parent in the world would want to let their child fall to harm when it could easily be prevented?
There are some simple things you can do to help prevent NBS, many of which won’t cost you any extra effort at all.
- Begin weaning your child off their bottle as early as 12 months. At this point they can start transitioning to a “sippy cup” or other similar device. Bottles are the problem here because they encourage prolonged contact with sugary liquids.
- Start caring for your child’s teeth as soon as they erupt. They won’t be able to brush them on their own but they can learn some good habits from seeing you do it!
- Don’t let your child walk around with a milk, formula, or juice bottle for more than 20 minutes. After that sub it out for nothing or water.
- Children eat on a pretty regular schedule, and they don’t need to get anything besides water between meals. If they desperately want a bottle to drink give them one with water in it – they need to stay hydrated just as much as you do, and water is great for their oral health.
- Schedule dental appointments as soon as the first tooth erupts, and be sure to keep your child on a regular dental schedule. Continued care is the only way to recognize decay before it becomes serious!
You Can Prevent Early Cavities!
Getting regular care at our Edgewood dentist office is just one of the keys to your child’s healthy mouth, but it’s an essential one. Make an appointment today by calling us at 859-474-7830 or by filling out our online appointment request form. We look forward to seeing you and your family soon!