Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

By Izzie • General, Health • 22 Jan 2014

Did you ever think that giving your sweet baby something as harmless as a bottle could cause something with a name as putrid as “bottle rot?” Bottle rot or the more professional term known as baby bottle tooth decay, occurs when the bacteria that feeds on the sugars of juice or milk rots baby teeth. Though it may affect other teeth, this decay usually occurs on the baby’s front teeth. Most parents may be unaware that the liquids that often comfort and nourish their babies can also cause this severe tooth decay. Fortunately, there are steps to avoid this from happening to your baby.

One of the most common causes of baby bottle tooth decay (BBTD) is the frequent prolonged exposure of your baby’s teeth to sugary drinks. This is especially found in babies that are put to sleep with a bottle in their mouth filled with milk or juice, or when a bottle is used as a pacifier for a fussy infant. It is also commonly seen in babies who frequently walk around while awake, carrying bottles or sippy cups. The decay that forms from the constant liquids strike the most visible portion of the front teeth, often turning them black or discolored.

It is almost impossible to reverse the damage done by BBTD until the permanent teeth emerge, but you can change some habits to prevent it. Avoid using the bottle in place of a pacifier or right before bedtime. If you must use the bottle to put your baby to sleep, try switching the milk or juice to water, until you can switch to a pacifier completely. Brush your baby’s teeth, especially before bedtime. If your baby is toothless, or has more gums than teeth, wiping down the gums with a damp cloth after a bottle will do the trick too. This will remove the bacteria and prevent sugars from getting trapped, which causes decay.

Of course taking your child to the dentist at an early age will help too. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends taking your child to the dentist no later than the first birthday. This check-up will allow the dentist to check for any initial signs of tooth decay or poor oral health. Try making water the main drink for your child gets when he or she is older, especially since formula/milk is no longer required as their main source of nutrition. Sipping water in between meals and snacks will reduce the amount of sugar that collects around their teeth and gums and help prevent the build-up of damaging oral bacteria.

The good news is that baby bottle tooth decay is preventable. In some cases dental work is required to remedy it. Don’t be fooled by thinking that since it only affects baby teeth it will be okay when the adult teeth come in. By taking appropriate action at home, you can prevent your baby from the discomfort and uneasiness of discolored, bottle rotted teeth.

This article is provided on behalf of Phoenix dentist Dr. Arthur Chal,

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