Milk, bottles, and primary teeth

My daughter is 18 months old and is still using the bottle. She is a picky eater, so she still drinks a lot of milk. At her last appointment, her doctor said her two front teeth are starting to discolor because of the milk. These teeth appear to have a translucent tinge to them. Is this damage permanent? What other problems can we encounter if we don't take the bottle away soon? My mom says it doesn't matter because these teeth are going to fall out anyway. She takes care of her while I work and doesn't want to help us take the bottle away.

I don't want my daughter's teeth to rot! We took her pacifier away about a month ago. We are now thinking of giving it back to her, since it seems she is nursing the bottle more now. What is your advice?

Question:

Drinking milk is a healthy and essential part of a child's diet, especially for developing good teeth and bones. The problem arises when the milk is allowed to sit on the child's teeth for a long period, especially overnight. This is when severe decay can form. This is why dentists and pediatricians warn against putting a child to bed with a bottle of juice, formula, milk, or sugar water. What is most important is cleaning your daughter's teeth after she has had the milk. In addition, it is not unusual for teeth, both primary and permanent to have a translucency along the chewing or cutting edge of the tooth; therefore, some of this coloration may be natural. Any damage, including decalcification or decay, caused by leaving the milk on the teeth is generally irreversible. This does not mean you should not take steps to prevent further problems.

You and your mother should also know that the first primary teeth are generally not lost until about 6 or 7 years-old. The posterior primary teeth are not lost until about 10-12 years old. Therefore, your daughter will have these teeth for quite a while longer. It is important to maintain these primary teeth because they help guide the eruption of the permanent teeth, aid in proper nutrition by chewing, and aid in phonetics. The primary teeth should not be discounted simply because they will "fall out anyway."

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