​​How to Prevent Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

baby bottle tooth decay

Baby teeth are small but strong, but don’t let baby bottle tooth decay dampen your child’s smile. Although they will only be around for about 10 years, baby teeth play a vital role in your child’s learning how to speak, chew and bite, develop healthy oral hygiene habits, and build confidence.

It is important that your child’s teeth are clean and strong enough to carry them through childhood. Babies’ immune systems are still developing, making them more susceptible to germs, germs, and common childhood illnesses like bottle-borne cavities.

In fact, tooth decay is the most common chronic infectious disease of childhood (American Academy of Pediatrics). We’re here to help you prevent it!

At All Kids Dental of Suffolk, we believe a healthy baby is a happy baby. We work with you to develop healthy oral hygiene habits that will support your child throughout life.

Here’s what you need to know about baby bottle rot:

What is bottle rot?

Baby bottle tooth decay, also known as bottle rot, is a serious childhood disorder that occurs when a child drinks sugary liquids on an ongoing basis for an extended period of time. Continued exposure to sugar can promote the growth of bacteria in the mouth, leading to tooth and gum infections.

Because most babies don’t have any symptoms at first, bottle cavities often develop without being noticed; however, if left untreated, the disease can cause permanent damage to your child’s teeth.

How does a child get baby bottle tooth decay?

Drinking sugary liquids like milk or formula can form a coating on your teeth that encourages bacterial growth and acid production. These acids then attack the enamel (the protective outer layer of the tooth), causing tooth decay and cavities.

Bottle rot causes include:

  • Long Feeding times
  • Falling asleep with a bottle in their mouth.
  • Bacteria passed from mom, guardian or dad to the infant. (If a parent cleans the pacifier with his or her mouth, or licks the baby’s feeding spoon, this can pass cavity-causing bacteria to the baby.)
  • Consuming sugary drinks before bed allows the acids to attack the teeth.

How can I prevent baby bottle tooth decay?

Here are a few tips for preventing baby bottle tooth decay:

Keep your baby’s teeth clean, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations:

  • Birth to 12 months: Gently wipe your baby’s gums with a clean, soft washcloth. Once their first tooth emerges, use a very soft baby toothbrush and a bit of ADA-approved fluoride toothpaste (the size of a grain of rice) to gently brush the teeth. 
  • 12 to 36 months: Using a soft-bristled toothbrush and ADA-approved fluoride toothpaste, brush your child’s teeth twice daily for two minutes each time. Use a rice-sized toothpaste smear, and be sure to brush after breakfast and before bed.
  • Only use formula, milk, or breast milk in baby bottles.
  • Liquids with high sugar content, like sugar water, juices or soft drinks, can quickly lead to bacteria buildup in the bottle and in your child’s teeth.
  • Don’t allow your child to fall asleep with a bottle in their mouth.
  • Unless the baby bottle only has water in it, don’t allow them to use their bottle as a pacifier. Pacifying with a baby bottle can leave your child’s teeth openly exposed to sugars and acids throughout the night.
  • Visit us for regular check-ups! During your child’s regular check-up and cleaning with one of our experienced pediatric dentists, we examine your child’s dental health to assess for risk factors that may lead to baby bottle tooth decay. Check-ups are essential for preventing diseases and ensuring excellent oral health! 

If your child is showing signs of Baby Bottle Tooth Decay talk with Dr. Joe and Dr. Brett about ways to address the issue. All Kids Dental of Suffolk has a kid-friendly waiting room and a staff that specializes in pediatric dentistry to meet all your child’s dental needs. Call 757-922-8110 to book your first appointment today.