Baby Bottle Decay

Baby bottle tooth decay is caused by the frequent and long-term exposure of a child's teeth to liquids containing sugars. Not only refined sugars, as in sodas, but even natural sugars in milk, fruit juice, formula and other sweetened drinks can be a problem. The sugars in these liquids pool around the infant's teeth and gums, feeding the bacteria that cause decay. Every time a child consumes a sugary liquid, bacteria convert sugars to acid and the acid attacks the teeth, eventually causing decay.

Never allow children to fall asleep with a bottle containing milk, formula, juice or other sweetened liquids. Giving an infant a sugary drink at nap or bedtime is harmful because during sleep, the flow of saliva decreases, allowing the sugary liquids to linger on the child's teeth for an extended period of time. Only water should be used in a bottle given at nap or bedtime.

A higher rate of tooth decay is also associated with breast-fed infants who have prolonged feeding habits, and with children whose pacifiers are dipped in honey, sugar or syrup.

If decay is left untreated, pain and infections can result. Severely decayed teeth may need to be extracted. Infected baby teeth can harm the developing permanent teeth under them. Premature loss of baby teeth can adversely affect the timing and position of erupting permanent teeth. If baby teeth are infected or lost too early due to decay, your child may develop poor eating habits and speech problems. Healthy baby teeth will usually result in healthy permanent teeth.

Clean and massage a baby's gums to help establish healthy teeth and to aid in teething. Wrap a moistened cotton gauze square or washcloth around the finger and gently massage the gums and gingival tissues for children who have not yet gotten their teeth. This should be done once a day. Once they are present, the teeth should be cleaned of plaque by using a soft toothbrush, cotton gauze, or washcloth. Cleaning your child's teeth should be done a minimum of twice a day and after each meal when possible. Using a small amount of toothpaste that contains fluoride is a good idea.

Parents should first bring their child to the dentist when the child is between two and three years of age, unless a specific concern arises earlier, such as trauma to the mouth or teeth, discolored teeth, or suspected decay or infection.

If you have any questions about baby tooth decay, Dr. Mahlin would be happy to discuss them with you.


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Everyone at the practice is super friendly, starting from the front desk to Dr. Mahlin. I normally get the first appointment in the morning and I have never had to wait. I have been going to them for probably 20 years and have never had an issue that isn't promptly resolved. Last time I had my crown done, Dr. Mahlin even gave me his mobile number in case of an issue. I'll definitely recommend them.

Sanjiv Bhatia

Dr. Mahlin and his staff are absolutely wonderful! His bedside manner is among the best, if not the best, when it comes to compassionate, patient-centered care. He even called me after I had a new crown placed just to see how I was doing. He's thoughtful, gentle (both as a person and as a dentist), and most importantly is excellent at dentistry! His staff couldn't be friendlier or more accomodating and I have never had a long wait in the waiting room. I would give him 10 stars if this rating scale allowed it!

Gregory Polites

Kim, my hygienist, is the best, she has a passion for insuring she does her best to ensure patient comfort and that I will leave with the cleanest teeth and gums as well as a plan for addressing potential issues! Dr. Mahlin is very professional in his final inspection and verification of any of Kim's findings while performing the cleaning. An added bonus that Dr. Mahlin provides is a follow up call in the evening to ensure that your experience that day for treatment has gone as expected and there aren't any abnormalities. Very Caring person!

John Helbing

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Scott Mahlin, DDS, FAGD, FICOI and Clarkson Dental Group, serving West St. Louis County area in Chesterfield, MO Disclaimer: This website is provided for information and education purposes only.  No doctor/patient relationship is established by your use of this website.  No dentistry diagnosis or treatment is being provided.  The information contained here should be used in consultation with a dentist of your choice.  No guarantees or warranties are made regarding any of the information contained within the website.  This website is not intended to offer specific medical or dental advice to anyone.  Further, this web site and Dr. Scott Mahlin, DDS, FAGD, FICOI take no responsibility for web sites hyperlinked to this site and such hyperlinking does not imply any relationships or endorsements. Please contact us with any concerns.


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