What causes tooth decay?
Several specific types of bacteria that live on the teeth cause decay. When sugar is consumed the bacteria use the sugar and then manufacture acids that dissolve the teeth and cause an infection in the tooth. This infection is called decay.
What is "baby-bottle" tooth decay?
Babies who go to bed with a bottle of milk, formula or juice are more likely to get tooth decay. Because the sugar in formula, milk or juice stays in contact with the teeth for a long time during the night, the teeth can decay quickly.
Here are some tips to avoid baby-bottle tooth decay:
If you feel it is necessary to use a bottle at night, put your child to bed with a bottle of plain water, not milk or juice.
Stop nursing when your child is asleep or has stopped sucking on the bottle.
Try not to let your child walk around using a bottle of milk or juice as a pacifier.
Start to teach your child to drink from a cup at about 6 months of age. Plan to stop using a bottle by 12 to 14 months.
Don't dip your child's pacifier in honey or sugar.
What is fluoride?
Fluoride helps make teeth strong and prevents tooth decay. If the water where you live does not have enough fluoride, we may recommend and prescribe fluoride supplements (fluoride drops or pills). These would be taken every day, starting when your child is about 6 months old. Children should take these drops or pills until they are 12 to 16 years old (or until you move to an area with fluoride in the water).