Milk is the first thing babies’ drink, whether breast or formula and then cow’s milk, and it is integral to their growth and development. Having a feeding schedule early on helps to establish great habits and to avoid baby bottle tooth decay or Early Childhood Caries (ECC).
Your child will begin to get their first teeth around 6 months old, which is also the time when solid foods are being introduced. Night time breast feeding or bottle feeding can cause dental decay because we produce a lot less saliva at night and therefore the mouth becomes dry – this environment with the milk residue present on the teeth is perfect for bacteria to cause tooth decay! Best practice is to have the last bottle/nursing, then brush your babies’ teeth before putting him or her to bed. If your baby awakes during the night and needs another feeding of milk, then take a facecloth and wipe the milk residue from the teeth surfaces. Ideally, your child would be given only water after brushing his or her teeth at night time.
ECC will look like ‘white spots’ on your babies’ front teeth. After time, then they will become cavities or holes and will look yellow in colour. Your child may have pain at this point. Tooth decay can always lead to pain, swelling and infection or tooth abscess – this is a dental emergency and needs to be treated promptly by removing the tooth.