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Q: What is nursing caries?

Posted October 01, 2014 in Advice Column, Perry

A: Nursing caries is a major oral health problem in most industrialized countries, affecting 60-90 percent of babies and school children. Nursing caries is a form of tooth decay that is caused by children sleeping with bottles. This is also called baby bottle or nursing bottle tooth decay. It is caused when a child goes to bed with a bottle filled with milk or juice — anything except water. It usually affects children between the ages of 1 and 2 years. Breast-fed infants who fall asleep while breastfeeding are also at risk.

The dental caries is caused by the action of acids on the enamel surface. The acid is produced when sugars (mainly sucrose) in foods or drinks react with bacteria present on the tooth surface. The acid produced, leads to a loss of calcium and phosphate from the enamel.

The following are the most common signs of nursing caries:
• White spots on the teeth.
• Early development of cavities (brown areas on the tooth that lead to tooth destruction).
The following are suggestions to help prevent nursing caries:
• Do not allow your child to go to bed with a bottle filled with anything but water.
• Wean your child from the bottle in a timely manner.
• Begin good early mouth care of the gums and teeth.
• Give fluoride supplementation as recommended by your child’s doctor.
• Have early dental visits for your child.

Information provided by Rob Swanson, DDS, Swanson Dental 2423 Willis Ave., Perry, 515-465-5170.

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