Posted on: 24 May 2016Share
Juice rot, also known as baby bottle tooth decay, is a serious problem that affects many young children. Not enough parents have heard of this problem, so they're contributing to it without even realizing it. Make sure you know how juice rot occurs so you can prevent it and what you can do if one of your children ends up with it.
What is Juice Rot?
Juice rot, or baby bottle tooth decay, is a dental issue where a baby's teeth rot before or just after they come in because of sugary drinks. Many young children have the first symptoms on their gums before the teeth even bud. Often, the first signs of juice rot are small white spots on the gums. If the teeth are already in, the spots will be on the child's teeth. If left untreated, the teeth can rot completely.
Causes of Juice Rot
Juice rot is caused by giving young children sugary drinks. In the most severe cases, parents give their children a bottle or sippy cup full of a sugar drink to take to bed with them. This can be anything other than water. Most commonly, the drinks include chocolate milk, juice, and even flavored water. Watering down juice is a common practice because it gives the child more to drink with less sugar. While that is better for a young child, it doesn't change the way the sugar effects their teeth while they sleep. It's best to completely avoid the practice of giving your child a drink at bedtime. However, if you decide to do it, water is the only thing that isn't dangerous for your child's teeth.
Signs of Juice Rot
As previously stated, the early signs are white spots on the gums and/or teeth. This is where the enamel is being eaten away. This occurs when the simple sugars from the drinks are combined with the bacteria in the mouth and turned into lactic acid. First, the enamel wears away, and then the acid begins eating at dentin in the teeth and cavities are formed. As the decay reaches the pulp (the center) the gums often become sore and inflamed. The teeth might begin to ache as well. Unfortunately, with young children and babies, they often can't verbalize their tooth pain. The crying could be remedied by another bottle being stuck in their mouth, which only causes the tooth problems to get worse.
Treatment for Juice Rot
The treatment for juice rot depends on the severity. The dentist will likely deal with it like he or she would deal with any other cavity. If the cavity isn't severe, a filling could be done to keep the tooth healthy. If a filling isn't enough, the dentist might have other options to save the teeth. If teeth are salvageable, saving them is always a priority. This could mean a root canal and/or a crown. Losing the teeth too early could cause developmental problems including:
- Speech problems
- Insufficient spacing
- Poor eating habits
- Bite changes
If children lose their teeth too early, it can take a long time for the permanent teeth to come in. Going a long time with teeth missing can cause a child to develop speech impediments and poor eating habits from being uncomfortable while eating. With teeth missing for so long, the teeth that are in the mouth can begin spreading out to fill in the spaces, so there won't be space for the permanent teeth once they're ready to grow in. The shifting teeth can cause the child to develop an overbite or an underbite, which can lead to thousands of dollars in dental bills.
Juice rot is very serious and also very preventable. Make sure you limit sugar intake all of the time, but especially avoid sugary drinks at night. Once teeth are brushed, stick to water. It's not worth the permanent damage it can do.