We’ve always known that plastic bottles and containers aren’t great for the environment, but now there’s even more reason to seek alternatives! Recent studies have shown that these plastic bottles may be hurting your child’s teeth and causing tooth decay.
How Plastic Bottles Cause Damage
So why should you ditch the plastic bottles? The reasons are two-fold.
- Chemicals. Recent studies have shown that the chemicals such as Bisphenol A (BPA) are quite common in refillable bottles and food storage containers. Exposure to these chemicals can affect the hormones that allow dental enamel to grow. Unfortunately, this doesn’t only affect their baby teeth. Permanent teeth—which your child will need throughout their adulthood—are already present in the jawbone during your child’s early years, as dental enamel is produced from the third trimester of pregnancy up until the age of 5. So, if your child is exposed to these chemicals throughout their childhood, it could mean there will be irreversible damage to the outer layer of their teeth.
- Extended Exposure to Liquids. Excessive bottle use can also cause early tooth decay, also known as “early childhood caries.” This is typically the result of infants being put to bed with a bottle, or being permitted to suck on a bottle throughout the day. When a child continuously sucks on bottle filled with milk, breast milk, or formula, it means they have continuous bacteria activity on their teeth, leading to rapid decay. If their bottle or sippy cup has sugary drinks like juice, this could make the decay happen even quicker.
How to Prevent Damage
Luckily, there are a few simple solutions to save your child’s teeth from the long-term effects of decay.
- Try plastic alternatives. Thankfully, many companies are catching on to the dangers of plastics. Now you can find bottles, sippy cups, and food containers made of pure rubber, stainless steal, and even glass (wrapped in kid-friendly silicone to prevent damage).
- Transition babies and toddlers off of bottles and pacifiers by the age of two. Limiting the exposure to these plastics will enable them to form healthy enamel. Skip the sugar and acidic beverages. Avoiding giving your child sugary drinks betters their chances of avoiding tooth decay.
- No bottles in bed. Exposing teeth to liquids and harmful chemicals all night long is one of the most common reasons for malformed enamel in children. Have your child finish their bottle before bed to prevent this extended exposure.
- Clean their teeth and gums after meals. Try taking a damp washcloth and gently wiping your infant’s gums and teeth after meals. This will remove the bacteria that forms from these liquids.
If Your Child Has Tooth Decay
There is a common misconception that tooth decay in children doesn’t really matter—after all, they’re going to lose their baby teeth anyway! However, this unfortunately isn’t the case. If baby teeth are lost prematurely, this can affect the spacing of the underlying permanent teeth, leading to orthodontic issues once they come in. Not to mention the impact it can have on your child’s ability to learn how to speak properly, creating a need for speech therapy later in life. Also, chemicals in plastic can affect your children’s teeth on a hormonal level, hurting the enamel in both their baby teeth and permanent teeth.
If you see spots on your child’s teeth, it means they likely have tooth decay. Symptoms of more severe decay also includes bad breath, bleeding or swollen gums, or fever. To get treatment for your child’s tooth decay or learn how you can prevent it, schedule your dentist at Caputo Dental today. Your dentist will be able to diagnose and formulate a treatment that can stop and even reverse decay in its earliest stages, enabling your child to have healthy teeth for years to come!