The Risks of Baby Bottle Tooth Decay


Even though your child will eventually lose their baby teeth, it is still important that they are properly cared for. These initial teeth are what will help them ensure their adult teeth come in where they should. These teeth will also allow them to begin eating and speaking properly as well. 

Did you know as soon as your baby develops teeth they are at risk for tooth decay? Baby bottle tooth decay, also known as early childhood caries, is a condition that happens when a baby has frequent, prolonged exposure to sugar. This typically happens when a baby is put to bed with a bottle. Here are the dangers of baby bottle tooth decay, plus what you can do to prevent it from happening to your child. 

Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

Baby bottle tooth decay is a term that is used to describe overall tooth decay in infants and toddlers. The American Dental Association explains that tooth decay can be caused by many different factors. However, in babies, prolonged exposure to drinks that contain sugar are often the culprit. More specifically, when a baby is put to bed with a bottle, or when a bottle is used as a pacifier for a fussy baby. 

Additionally, tooth decay can begin when cavity-causing bacteria is also passed from mother, or primary caregiver, to the baby. This bacteria can be passed through saliva when the parent does things like eating off the baby’s feeding spoon or cleaning a pacifier with their own mouth.

This decay in young children most commonly affects the upper front teeth, but all teeth are susceptible. 

Baby Bottle Tooth Decay Prevention 

The good news, however, is that tooth decay can be prevented. The American Dental Association offers these tips to prevent tooth decay in babies and small children: 

  • Try not to share saliva with the baby through common use of feeding spoons or licking pacifiers. After each feeding, wipe your child’s gums with a clean, damp gauze pad or washcloth.
  • When your child’s teeth come in, brush them gently with a child-size toothbrush. Smear a grain of rice sized amount of fluoride toothpaste until the age of 3. 
  • Brush the teeth with a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste from the ages of 3 to 6.
  • Supervise brushing until your child can be counted on to spit and not swallow toothpaste—usually not before he or she is 6 or 7.
  • Place only formula, milk or breast milk in bottles. Avoid filling the bottle with liquids such as sugar water, juice or soft drinks.
  • Infants should finish their bedtime and nap time bottles before going to bed.
  • If your child uses a pacifier, provide one that is clean—don’t dip it in sugar or honey.
  • Encourage your child to drink from a cup by his/her first birthday.
  • Encourage healthy eating habits.

Dental Hygiene for Children

Teaching your child dental hygiene from a young age will not only help set them up with the tools needed to maintain dental health, but it will also work to prevent them from developing major dental health issues later on in life. 

Additionally, it is recommended that your child be seen for a dental exam when their first tooth erupts or by the time they turn one year old, whichever is sooner. When your child starts coming to the dentist regularly from this young age, it can also help prevent them from developing fear or anxiety associated with the dentist. At Niles Family Dentistry, our gentle and caring staff will make sure your child has a good experience with the dentist from day 1. 

We want to work with you to help you start your child on their dental health journey. We will work with you to provide education and prevention strategies to help you succeed. Our infant dental exams not only will introduce your child to the importance of oral healthcare from a young age, but it will also serve to educate you on how to keep their dental health up at home. 

Trust Niles Family Dentistry with Your Family’s Smiles 

At Niles Family Dentistry, we take baby bottle tooth decay and all dental health issues seriously. We want to safeguard the health of your family’s smiles — no matter their ages. Whether you have a newborn or a kid you’re about to send off to college, Dr. Niles is here for all of your family’s dental health needs. Conveniently located in Niwot, Colorado and serving the Boulder, Longmont, Lafayette, and Louisville areas, call us for an appointment today: (720)-744-0001. 


Ashley Niles

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