Bottle-feeding ruining tots' teeth - says Children's Hospital's dental expert

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AUSTRALIA'S leading children's hospital has urged parents to stop bottle-feeding their babies because of rising rates of severe tooth decay in infants as young as 12 months.

... prolonged feeding with bottles of breast milk and infant formula are linked to the problem, especially at night, when children suck on bottles in their cots for extended periods.

... naturally-occurring lactose was present in both breast milk and formula. When combined with plaque in a baby's mouth, it could erode the enamel of primary teeth.

"Ideally, children should go straight from breast to cup, avoiding bottles altogether," ...

... the hospital had been removing teeth, under general anaesthetic, from babies as young as 12 months due to bottle-feeding infants at bedtime.

Paediatric dentists had noticed a pattern of decay on the back of the upper front teeth, indicating the cause was drink from a bottle that had been held between the child's tongue and teeth for prolonged periods.

... The waiting time for dental surgeries under general anaesthetic is between nine and 12 months.

... primary teeth were important because they helped children chew food properly, develop proper speech and guide permanent teeth into the right place.

Even when teeth had not formed, it was important to establish good habits and not let a child become accustomed to sucking on a bottle at night ...

Melissa Maimann, Essential Birth Consulting 0400 418 448