Baby Bottle Tooth Decay
A baby's mouth is also full of bacteria.
Many parents put their children to sleep with a bottle. This often helps the baby settle down and fall off to sleep. However the bacteria in the mouth find a substrate around the teeth. Sugars present in milk nourish the bacteria, which multiply and cause tooth damage. When the bottle is given at night, the milk remains in the mouth for an extended period of time resulting in severe decay. This decay which involves almost all the upper incisors is called Rampant Caries, characteristic of baby bottle decay.
How to protect the child?
Tooth decay is perhaps the most common condition affecting all segments of the population in all age groups.
Teeth breakdown food into small pieces that can be readily swallowed and digested. Teeth are alive. There is pulp at the heart of each tooth which contains blood vessels and nerves which sense heat, cold pressure and pain. Dentine is a hard substance that surrounds the pulp and is covered by enamel in the crown portion and cementum in the root portion. A shock absorbing material called periodontal ligament lines the socket of each tooth.
Enamel is the hardest material in the body. However, acids produced by bacterial action can erode enamel and lead to decay. If this is not checked, decay can progress through the dentine and into the pulp, resulting in pulp death and abscess formation.
Decay can cause pain. Dentine contains small canals that lead to the pulp. Bacteria progress through the outer layer of enamel, reach these canals and progress directly into the pulp. The Body responds to this by sending cells called white blood cells into the area to combat the infection. The blood vessels around the tooth enlarge to accommodate the blood and white cells. These enlarged vessels press upon the nerves entering the tooth, resulting in a tooth ache.
The Cause of Dental Decay The oral cavity is a veritable store house of all sorts of bacteria. When food lodges in it, the bacteria acts on the food to produce acids which dissolve tooth enamel, leading to cavities. These cavities cause more food to lodge which cause progression of the initial lesion.
The decay starts as small white spots on the external surface of the tooth and turns brown or black. Though this stage causes no discomfort, further inattention can lead to cavities. However, periodic check ups can bring the decay to the dentist's knowledge and allow preventive methods like removing the decayed portion and filling it with paste, silver amalgam filling, or tooth coloured filling material called composites. Common sites where tooth decay occurs are the surfaces of the premolars and the molars (the back teeth), and the spaces between teeth where food particles get stuck. Being difficult to reach and clean, these spaces, allow food particles to damage the enamel, as well as become pockets of infection as the food putrefies.
Usually, the first sign of tooth decay is increased sensitivity to hot and cold drinks. This is followed by acute pain when the decay lays bare the internal pulp space containing nerves.
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