What is it? The syndrome is an incorrect feeding method in infants, nothing more, but it can result in such a widespread decay of a toddler’s teeth that the child will undoubtedly suffer pain and may miss teeth at a very early stage. It is important to understand the mechanism of this feeding problem if it is to be avoided.
Some would refer to it as bottle mouth or nursing bottle syndrome.
Bottle Mouth Mechanism
Watch your baby as she takes the bottle and starts to suck. You’ll see that her tongue comes forward and almost draws the liquid through the teat. It is an entirely different action to that experienced by an adult. This action would allow a baby to drink while they’re lying down, which is an uncomfortable thing for an adult to do. On the other hand, a baby would happily lie down and suck on a bottle and till she is fast asleep.
Unfortunately, while the baby falls asleep, the sucking action slows down. This means that the liquid she is drinking pools around in the mouth for some seconds before it is swallowed. The pooling time becomes longer and longer as her sleep deepens. What is more is that the pulling is quite specific. One needs to remember that it is the tongue that moves forward as it needs to cover the front teeth fully as well as the lower back ones.
These teeth are being protected from the pooling liquid. The top part of the front teeth receives the worst of the pooling as the teat forms a barrier between them and the tongue. The content of the bottle stays in contact with the teeth for however long the bottle remains in the baby’s mouth. So you can detect a specific pattern taking place, namely that the upper front teeth are very severely affected and the upper first primary molars receive the next highest risk of decay
Another prominent issue would be the content of the bottle. After all, acidic liquids would damage the enamel while liquids that are high in sugar will encourage bacterial growth within the mouth. Carbonated cold drinks such as pure fruit juice, in particular, should be avoided in bottles.
The syndrome results in the specific pattern of decay mentioned above, and there’s always the same history of drinking a bottle while falling asleep. Sometimes the decay happens so quickly that mothers will say that the teeth came out Brown. It is relatively easy for a Grants Pass Dentist to detect bottle mouth. However, it is often very hard to treat.
How Would You Avoid Bottle Feeding Syndrome?
- Do not let your baby go to sleep with a bottle. Rather have her or him finish it while they are awake than let them lie down with it.
- Refrain from adding sugar to their milk or whatever you choose to put in the bottle. Your child does not need extra sugar as there is usually enough in their normal diet.
- Do your best to wean your toddler off the bottle sooner rather than later.
- Ensure that you maintain the highest possible standard of oral hygiene in your baby
- Try to use only water in the bottle if your baby insists on lying down with one.
Treatment of Rampant Decay in Toddlers
Where decay is discovered at an early stage immediate treatment with topical fluoride will help slow the process down. Naturally, the diet habits as mentioned above have to be rectified as soon as the child allows it. Suddenly stopping a sweetened bottle is guaranteed to create unhappiness in a toddler. So, do it gradually.
Once the corrosion process stops, the decayed areas will go very dark brown or black. It is of course very unsightly, but at least the progress of the disease has been checked.
When the child is older and more compliant, small restorations can be done bit by bit.
If the decay is not checked on regularly by a reputed Grants Pass Dentistry such as Allen Creek Dental, then it may advance to a stage where the teeth are severely broken, or there are pain and abscess formation. No doubt preventative measures alone is not sufficient.
One also needs to take the child’s age into consideration and the expected time of exfoliation or loss of the deciduous teeth. Fortunately, rampant decay in baby teeth has no effect on the underlying permanent teeth, so you would expect these teeth to erupt normally.