Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

Baby teeth are important, even though they will fall out eventually. A healthy set of baby teeth helps set the stage for healthy adult teeth. One common concern with very young children is baby bottle tooth decay (also called early childhood aries, nursing bottle syndrome, or nursing caries).

This occurs when the baby’s teeth are in contact with sugars from juice, milk, formula, or any other sweet drink. Often older babies are left with their bottles for long periods of time, even falling asleep with liquid in their mouths.

These liquids break down into the mouth, and if they are allowed to sit in the mouth, bacteria start feeding on the sugars and cause tooth decay.

To prevent baby bottle tooth decay, you should never put your baby to bed with a bottle filled with anything but plain water. You should never dip your baby’s pacifier in sugar, honey, or any sugary liquid, and you should teach your baby to move to a cup by his or her first birthday. A “sippy cup” can be less likely to lead to tooth decay because it reduces the amount of time teeth are exposed to sugars, but the same rules do apply with a cup: try to fill it with plain water more often than not, and if there’s anything but water in it, do not allow the child to sip slowly on it all day long.

Dr. Jacobs can help answer all of your questions about baby teeth and helping even the youngest children keep those pearly whites shiny and healthy.