How can I get my baby to sleep without milk at night in order to prevent tooth decay?

Q: My child’s baby teeth are coming out and my friend’s tell me that I have to stop giving her a bottle of milk in the middle of the night or she will get cavities in her teeth. How can I get her off the bottle?

It is true that your child is likely to get cavities if she is drinking milk before sleeping or when she wakes up in the middle of the night. The result is called baby bottle syndrome and often effects mainly the upper teeth because the tongue helps to protect the lower teeth. There are a variety of methods to get her off the bottle. One is to slowly introduce more and more water into her bottle of milk until it is diluted so much that it will be pure water. Another way, is to see if she will accept a pacifier instead of a bottle at night. The harshest way is to just let her cry for milk a few nights until she realizes that no milk will be coming and she just puts herself to sleep at night. However you choose to do it, it is important to your child’s health that the change be made once she has her teeth. Never have milk or juice be the last thing to touch her teeth before she sleeps. Take a toothbrush or washcloth with water and gently clean teeth after meals. If teeth touch, they also need to be flossed in order to prevent cavities from happening in between the teeth. Also, visit a dentist every 6 months so any major dental problems can be avoided.

Dr. Natalie Khadavi sees children and adults in Culver City and serves the greater Los Angeles area. Visit our website or give us a call at (310) 482-3971 for more information about how we can provide you and your family with healthy smiles that last a lifetime.

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