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What is Baby Bottle Decay?

Family DentistryHealth Tips

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Even though your child’s baby teeth are temporary, they are still incredibly important and are still highly susceptible to cavities. When a child develops decay at this young age it is often referred to as Baby Bottle Decay or Early Childhood Caries. 

It is incredibly important for your child to have strong and healthy teeth to chew their food, speak correctly and have a healthy smile. The health of their first teeth will help ensure that their adult teeth come in correctly. This is why it is important to start your little ones off with good oral care and help them build good oral habits to help protect their teeth for decades to come. 

What causes Baby Bottle Decay?

Baby bottle decay is tooth decay that most often occurs in the upper front teeth of your baby mouth but other teeth are also able to be affected. 

There are a number of factors which can cause this decay. The most common cause is the frequent and prolonged exposure of drinks with high sugar levels to the babies teeth. This includes the baby keeping a bottle with milk in it in their mouths while they sleep. If you have a fussy baby and the bottle helps soothe your baby, opt for a baby dummy or a pacifier rather than a bottle filled with sugar ridden liquids. 

Tooth decay is a disease that can be caused by various things; however, it can begin with cavity-causing bacteria being passed from mother (or any caregiver) to the infant. This includes bacteria passed through the saliva. When a mother puts a feeding spoon in her own mouth or cleans a pacifier in her own mouth, instead of cleaning, the bacteria in the mouth just gets passed from mother to the baby. 

Fluoride is important

If your baby or toddler does not receive an adequate amount of fluoride, they may also have an increased risk of having tooth decay. The great news is that tooth decay is preventable. 

Preventing tooth decay

Here are a few tips to help you prevent tooth decay (Baby Bottle Decay) in your child:

  • Brush any teeth that your child may have as soon as they appear
  • Brush their teeth with a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste 
  • When your child’s teeth come in be sure to brush them gently with a child-size toothbrush and suitable toothpaste. 
  • Avoid giving the baby bottles willed with any sugar filled liquids such as juice or soft drinks
  • Babies and toddlers should finish their nap time or bedtime bottles before going to bed
  • If your child uses a pacifier make sure to use one that is clean. Never use one that is dipped in sugar or honey
  • Encourage your child to drink from a cup rather than bottle after their first birthday 
  • Try encourage healthy eating habits as often as you can 
  • Always supervise your child whilst brushing to make sure they are brushing their teeth correctly for the right amount of time. 

When your child’s first tooth appears, talk to your dentist about scheduling your child’s first dental visit. Treat the first dental visit as you would a checkup by your baby’s physician, dental appointments are just as important. 

Remember: starting early is the key to a lifetime of good dental health. 


What is baby bottle decay?

Baby bottle decay is the common term referred to infants and toddlers who have tooth decay. This is often caused by babies keeping their milk bottles in their mouths during long periods of time (i.e. while they sleep) which makes their teeth more susceptible to decay.

How to prevent Baby Bottle Decay?

Tips for preventing baby bottle syndrome

  • Give your child water to drink when they’re thirsty
  • Clean your child’s teeth twice a day for 2 minutes each time
  • Don’t allow your child to sip on a bottle filled with formula, milk or juice for long periods of time. ALWAYS opt for water.
  • Ensure that your child does not fall asleep with a bottle filled with formula, milk or juice. 

Is baby rot or baby bottle decay common?

It is very common for parents to send their children to bed with a bottle of milk, especially when they are toddlers. However, unfortunately a lot of parents aren’t aware that this habit can lead to tooth decay.

Due to the high levels of sugar in milk, allowing your child to go to bed with a bottle increases their exposure time to sugar which in turn, also increases their chances of developing cavities without you even knowing.

This is why it is important to take your child to the dentist as soon as they start teething. This way a dentist can spot any kind of decay early before it has a chance to get even worse. 

Is baby bottle decay reversible?

If your baby is going through baby bottle decay, treatment is available at The Neem Tree and is also highly effective. In fact in many cases, tooth decay in toddlers is actually reversible and enamel can be repaired, most notably through fluoride. 

Book an appointment with our dental hygienists now to find out more about how to keep your baby’s teeth and gums as healthy as possible. Find out more about our family dentistry services.

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Contact us today to find out more about diabetes and gum disease by contacting one of our practices in Esher, Surrey or Wandsworth, South West London.