Baby bottle tooth decay: What is it and how to prevent it?


Do you know a baby with healthy teeth will have permanent healthy teeth in future? However, even if adult teeth will ultimately replace them, still baby teeth are highly susceptible to cavities and decay, which can cause oral health issues. One such problem is baby bottle tooth decay, also called early childhood caries or Nursing bottle caries. 


What is baby bottle tooth decay?

When you know what the cause of this condition is, you can easily prevent it. This is when toddlers and infants get tooth decay, mainly in their upper front teeth. One of the primary causes is getting exposed to sugary drinks. Bacteria present in the mouth feel this sugar, then multiply and produce acid as one of the waste products. This acid has an impact on the teeth as well as tooth enamel, thereby leading to tooth decay. Another primary reason for baby bottle tooth decay is when a baby is put to sleep with a bottle or if you use a bottle as a pacifier when they are cranky.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, when a tooth is coated with any liquid other than clean water for an extended period, it leads to tooth decay. Some of this liquid includes

  • Milk
  • Juice
  • Snacks
  • Infant formula

Another major cause of baby bottle tooth decay is when an infant falls asleep with a bottle or uses a bottle or sippy cup for extended periods, the sugar can coat the teeth. This causes the teeth to decay more quickly in such children.

The deficiency of fluoride also causes tooth decay. Then tooth decay also passes from mother to infants through their saliva, which consists of cavity-causing organisms. Suppose a mother puts her baby's feeding spoon or the pacifier in her mouth, then she can easily pass the bacteria to her baby.


Symptoms of baby bottle tooth decay

The signs of tooth decay can be seen on the gumline of the upper front teeth, where you can see some white spots in the teeth. But as your baby's teeth are tiny, these signs are hard to locate without the required equipment. Therefore, bringing your baby to an excellent pediatric dentist every six months from when their teeth start erupting or growing in is best. This way, you will get a good idea of how to take good care of your baby's new erupting teeth and prohibit all kinds of early decay from the beginning.

When decay starts impacting your baby's teeth, issues start arising. When your baby gets early tooth decay, it can lead to

  • Pain and uneasiness in mouth
  • Expensive dental care or emergency care
  • Damage to permanent teeth 
  • Infections that result in other kinds of health issues

It might sound quite frightening, but timely treatment and prevention of Baby Bottle Tooth decay is possible


How to prevent baby bottle tooth decay?

Prevention of baby bottle tooth decay mainly involves remaining aware of what you are putting in your baby's mouth and maintaining proper oral health. Here are a few prevention tips that you should keep in mind:

  • After feeding your baby, make sure you wipe their gums by using a damp washing cloth or a gauze pad
  • Do not share spoons with your baby.'
  • When your baby teeth come in, brush them using a child-sized toothbrush and a grain of rice-sized toothpaste.
  • Use only formula, breast, or other milk in your baby bottle. Avoid all kinds of sugary juice or any soft drinks.
  • Ensure your baby finishes their bottles before going to bed.
  • The pacifiers should be clean and not coated with honey or sugar.
  • After breastfeeding, ensure the nipple is removed from your baby's mouth after sleep.


Baby bottle tooth decay Treatment 

Baby bottle tooth decay can be treated, and its reversal is possible. But the primary step is contacting a dentist who will help you plan a treatment based on your baby's age and severity. Your dentist might recommend fluoride treatments like fluoride toothpaste. Some in-office treatments include silver diamine fluoride, which helps re-mineralize your baby's enamel and dentin. 

It is essential to treat baby bottle tooth decay. The permanent teeth that serve your child into adulthood are mainly present in the jawbone from their early years, and your baby's teeth primarily act as a placeholder for their permanent teeth. If your baby's teeth fall before time, it affects the spacing of the permanent teeth along with other exclusive orthodontic treatments. The best way to baby bottle tooth decay is prevention and awareness. Once your baby is born, take good care of their oral health, and do not forget to check in with the pediatric dentist once they turn six months. MyDentalPlan  is India’s Largest Dental Network platform where there are some of the best pediatric dentists to assist you with your child’s dental issues.




About the Author:

Suprithi Choudhary, M.Pharm (Pharmacology) Medical Content writer

Suprithi is a Pharma Professional working as a medical content writer and previously worked as a Research Scientist and Senior Research Analyst


  • C.M Academy
  • Attended the Panjab University- Chandigarh, Pharma post-graduate in Pharmacology

Special thanks to Dr Deepak Kulkarni, a dental surgeon with over 23 years of experience who proofread this blog. He graduated from the H.K.E's Dental College, Gulbarga, and has certifications in ACHS International Accreditation Education Plan; Advanced Rotary Endodontic - Restorative Continuum; and Leadership, Team Building and Customer Service Leadership from the Oscar Murphy International.


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