Friday, October 28, 2005

Baby Bottles and Teeth

By Christina VanGinkel

We have all heard reports that putting your child to bead with a bottle or a sippy cup can be bad for their health in several ways, mainly for the decay the milk or juice can cause when it settles on the teeth over night. Years ago, when my youngest son was a toddler, this was brought to our attention in quite a severe way. He had taken a fall off a small push toy that he thought he could use as a ladder. His older brother was about half a room away from him when he fell, and I was sitting on the couch in the same room. My oldest son saw him before I did as he stood up, and he started to shout to call 911. He saw blood, lots of it, and in his eleven-year-old mind, he figured his little brother needed help. I made a quick assessment and called our family dentist, who told me to bring him right in. At just over a year, his front baby teeth had just come in. They were soon to be out!

In the meantime, not knowing if the teeth would tighten up, but hoping they would, we took him back home. Everything was still in place, just loose. It was suggested that we not feed him anything hard, which would not be that difficult as he was more than content at his young age eating mashed potatoes and bananas. We were told we could give him a bottle, that if it hurt for him to suck, he would stop, and we should then offer him sips from a cup, something he was already familiar with anyway, only taking a bottle at night as it was. That evening, we put him to bed as we often did with the bottle. This evening, as he still had some bleeding going on around the gums, I offered him both a bottle of milk and a bottle of apple juice. He picked the apple juice. All I can say is the following morning we were not prepared for the revelation we were about to be introduced to. If you do not think juice can get into the little nooks and crannies of a child's set of teeth, I had first hand knowledge that it could. His teeth had actually shattered the day before unbeknownst to our dentist and us, and the juice had created a literal maze of all the cracks. When he smiled, it appeared as if he had little road maps painted in brown lines all across his front teeth.

He ended up having to go to an oral surgeon who removed his four front teeth. This resulted in years of speech therapy, followed by his adult teeth's struggle to come through years down the road. It also made me warn every young mother I came across for years, about how that innocuous bottle of milk or juice can do a lot more harm to their child's teeth than they can see. I did get to see, through very unusual circumstances to say the least, and it is not something I would ever want to see again!

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