Home    Subscribe    Write for Us    List an Event/Business    Contact    Login
Join the Brisbane Mums Facebook Group to make friends, ask questions, seek advice, and join a vibrant and supportive community.

Oral Health Tips for Baby's Bedtime Routine

by BecSorby (follow)
Author: Julie Barker

Along with nutrition, the calming benefits received from sucking are well known, and sucking on a dummy or bottle can be really helpful for settling upset or unwell babies. But when does this practice become more harmful than helpful?

Prolonged use of dummies and bottles to soothe can become a habit, similar to thumb and finger sucking - habits that are very difficult to break.

Children tend to outgrow the practice at some stage, usually between the ages of 2 to 4. The sooner a child can ‘kick the habit’, the better it will be for their long-term oral health.

What harm can dummies and bottles do?

Firstly, children who suck on a bottle containing anything other than water through the night are at a much higher risk of developing tooth decay.

Saliva, which helps to protect the teeth, is reduced while sleeping. This, combined with the fact that liquids other than water contain sugars, which can be converted by bacteria in the mouth into acid and put new teeth at risk of dental decay.

Similarly, dipping a dummy into sweet things like honey to encourage a baby to suck has the same effect on teeth as sucking on lollies for prolonged periods.

Research shows that prolonged dummy use or bottle use at night can increase the risk of ear infections.

Bottle teats and dummies can harbour bacteria and viruses, especially if they have been dropped or placed in another mouth without sterilising before using.

The old practice of ‘cleaning’ a dummy in the mother’s mouth after it has been dropped has been shown to introduce more bacteria into the baby’s mouth, some of which may be harmful for teeth and gums.

How to avoid long-term impact on oral health:

If using a bottle to settle your baby to sleep through the night, only use water in the bottle.
Don’t dip dummies into any substance before offering to baby.
Keep dummies and bottles clean and sterilised.
Try to limit the use of bottles and dummies by the age of 2, and certainly aim to stop using them before age 4.
After 18 months of age, avoid using dummies during the daytime to allow development of the jaw and muscles for speech.
When the time comes to stop, perhaps try encouraging your child to ‘donate’ their dummy to charity or leave it for the ‘dummy fairy’ to collect.
Talk to your oral health professional about any concerns you have and for advice on ways to break the dummy or bottle habit.
The good news is that bottles and dummies play an important role for soothing babies. Children generally tend to wean themselves over time and, with encouragement, it is an easier habit to break than finger or thumb sucking.

Julie Barker

Julie Barker is a registered dental therapist with over 30 years of experience in the public sector in Queensland. She has worked in both rural and metropolitan areas in clinical, management and oral health promotion capacities. Julie is a founding member of the Oral Health Advisory Panel.


The Oral Health Advisory Panel (OHAP), is a group of independent healthcare professionals with the aim of raising awareness of the importance of good oral health and its impact on general wellness. The Panel aims to take oral health beyond the dental clinic.

Follow the Oral Health Advisory Panel via twitter @OHAPanel to stay up to date with practical advice on good oral health habits.

A Comprehensive review of evidence and recommendations related to pacifier usage. Nelson AM, J Pediatr Nurs. 2012 Dec;27(6):690-9. doi: 10.1016/j.pedn.2012.01.004.

‘Be Comfortable in Your Own Skin’ is a new campaign by Huggies that is encouraging parents to stop ‘parent-shaming’ each other.
In episode 138, Childhood Anxiety and the Inflamed Brain, join Nat and Leigh them for a chat as they delve more into the connections between a child’s brain, gut health, inflammation and anxiety.
Packed with over 100 pages including jigsaws, crosswords, colouring-in, puzzles and much more, the Easter Activity EPack is just $9.90 and once downloaded, can be printed off as many times as you like!
The Brisbane Crochet Club meets weekly to learn crochet, meet other Brisbane mums, and have a good chat. Whether you're a complete beginner or a seasoned pro, everyone is welcome to come along!
Do you want to learn how to knit? Or have recently started and would like to meet some new friends to share your creativity with, all while having a good chat? The Brisbane Knitting Club has classes for you!
Family Photo offer affordable, outdoor photography sessions which are perfect for families with little ones who can't sit still!
15 Mar - 19 Apr
With social distancing in place and many of us quarantined in our homes this school holidays, we have to get really creative with what to get up to. Here is our guide to help you out. Featuring indoor and outdoor activities.
Join the conversation on the Brisbane Mums Facebook Group

Enjoy affordable family photography from MyFamilyPhoto.com.au

I like this Article - 1
ID: 96927
January (110)
February (106)
March (112)
April (96)
May (157)
June (106)
July (98)
August (88)
September (135)
October (129)
November (112)
December (142)
Copyright 2012-2018 OatLabs ABN 18113479226. mobile version