Once your child has teeth, he or she is exposed to tooth decay or caries. Human breast milk, newborn milk formulas, cow milk and fruit juices all contain sugar.
Babies can develop caries because they go to bed with a bottle of milk, newborn formula or fruit juice. Although frequent, unrestricted breastfeeding during the night can increase the risk of caries, the majority of breastfed children do not develop early childhood tooth decay.
This type of tooth decay can occur until the age of four. Once your child has teeth, check them on a monthly basis. Beware of dull white spots or lines that can appear on teeth, close to the gums. Beware also of darker-colored teeth.
Early childhood tooth decay must be treated promptly. Otherwise, your child could experience pain and develop an infection.
If you are currently giving your child a bottle of milk, newborn formula or juice at bedtime, stopping cold turkey will not be easy. Here is how you should proceed:
• Fill the baby bottle with water only
• If your child refuses it, give him, or her, a clean pacifier, a plush toy or a blanket.
• If your child cries, don’t give up. Console him or her and try again.
• If nothing else works, try increasingly diluting the milk in your child’s bottle with water so that, over a period of one or two weeks, the bottle only contains water.