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PERSONAL HEALTH : Baby-Teeth Decay No Small Problem

July 15, 1993|SHARI ROAN

Those cute little baby bottles with the shapes and logos of popular soft-drink containers aren't cute to children's dentists. If parents take the hint and actually fill the bottles with those sweet liquids, they could contribute to a serious problem: baby-bottle tooth decay, which affects about 10% of the nation's young.

Baby teeth decay because of prolonged exposure to sugary foods and liquids. Often, it occurs among babies and toddlers who are given bottles of juice or milk during naps and at bedtime, says dentist Scott Jacks of South Gate. Jacks says he sees at least four children a day with baby-bottle decay who will require extensive restoration work to save teeth.

"This is a tremendous problem, and there is no need for children to have to go through this," says Jacks.

However, an official for Munchkin Bottling Inc. of Van Nuys, which makes the $2.99 Soda Series bottles, says the bottles contain a guide to proper infant feeding.

"We are very concerned with tooth decay and think it's a problem. But what's needed is education to parents on how to properly feed children," says Steven B. Dunn, president of Munchkin.

To avoid decay, don't put your child to bed with a bottle or let the child carry a bottle around all day. Also, dentists encourage parents to start babies on sipper cups as soon as they are old enough to try them.

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