Current Theory of Baby Bottle Tooth Decay
A review of the current theory of baby bottle tooth decay, promoted by the American Dental Association, and what you need to know about it.
The Current Caries Theory States
What causes baby bottle tooth decay?
Decay occurs when sweetened liquids are given and are left clinging to an infant's teeth for long periods. Many sweet liquids cause problems, including milk, formula and fruit juice. Bacteria in the mouth use these sugars as food. They then produce acids that attack the teeth. Each time your child drinks these liquids, acids attack for 20 minutes or longer. After many attacks, the teeth can decay.
It's not just what you put in your child's bottle that causes decay, but how often — and for how long a time. Giving your child a bottle of sweetened liquid many times a day isn't a good idea. Allowing your child to fall asleep with a bottle during naps or at night can also harm the child's teeth.
What is True and Untrue about this Cavity Theory
It is true that if you regularly feed your infant sweetened liquids, that will cause tooth decay.
I support infants to be breastfed on cue.
Breast milk is not a sweet liquid which promotes decay.
Sweet liquids that do promote decay are:
- Store Bought Infant Formulas
- Any Type of Fruit Juice
- Rice Milk and Soy Milk
- For some cases: Pasteurized Milk
It is also true that the frequency of feeding of sweet foods (not breast milk) will impact significantly your child's dental health.
The reason is not because of sticky substances left on the teeth, but because tooth decay happens when there is a frequent rise and fall of blood sugar levels. The more often blood sugar is impacted by sweets, the more likely tooth decay will happen.
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