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Preventing Tooth Decay





Most damage to the teeth during the first two years of life is due to “baby bottle caries”. Sleeping with a bottle in the mouth that contains milk, fruit juice, fruit punch, or any other sweetened liquid, can cause severe decay of the newly erupting teeth. The sugar in these drinks is converted into acid by the normal bacteria of the mouth, and since liquids tend to pool in the mouth during sleep, this acid eats away at the enamel. The brown or black areas of decay are first seen on the edges of the upper teeth. Prevent this dental tragedy by not using the bottle as a pacifier.

• First, place your child in his crib after he’s finished his bottle.

• Second, if you can’t discontinue the nighttime bottle or replace it with a pacifier, fill it with water. This approach will prevent tooth decay, although it may not improve sleep problems.

• Third, and of interest, dental decay has even occurred in breast feeding babies. This rare event only happens if the mother sleeps with her infant and repeatedly falls asleep with her baby on the breast. Even breast milk contains sugar.

During Dr. Schmitt’s 20 years as a medical practitioner and researcher, he has published over 100 articles or chapters on pediatric health care, and has been awarded the distinguished C. Anderson Aldrich Award by the American Academy of Pediatrics for outstanding contributions to the field of child development. Schmitt has also authored five books including Your Child’s Health, which won Child Magazine’s first Hall of Fame Award in 1991. Schmitt is also a professor of Pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and on staff at The Children’s Hospital in Denver, Colorado.

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