Baby Bottle Induced Tooth Decay


Baby Bottle Tooth Decay (or “Early Childhood Caries”) is caused by precisely the same things as any other tooth decay: acidity produced by bacterial action in the mouth. The problem usually first appears on the outer sides of front teeth, upper and lower, and is not hard to spot. To prevent early childhood caries, the basic rules of good dental hygiene apply.


However, in the case of Baby Bottle Tooth Decay, the conditions causing Baby Bottle Tooth Decay are slightly different, in that the source of acidity is pronounced when a child is put to sleep with a bottle with a sugared drink, such as juice (and even milk has sugars), or is settled by using a bottle as a pacifier. In these cases, the teeth are exposed for a prolonged period to sugars that are food for bacteria.


In addition, some babies will be exposed to bacteria from a caregiver when that adult puts a baby’s feeding spoon in to their own mouth, or cleans a pacifier or feeding bottle with their own mouth. Saliva carrying bacteria can be transferred to the child’s mouth in this way.

Finally, a child is unlikely to be proactive in maintaining their own dental hygiene, and so the causes of tooth decay generally are enhanced in children.

Does this matter?

So you might ask: really, what does it matter if baby teeth (“primary teeth”) experience decay? They’re just going to be replaced in a few years anyway, with the teeth that really matter, right?

Actually, the fact that primary teeth will be replaced does not diminish their importance to overall dental health. While they are in a child’s teeth, they serve the fundamental purpose of chewing food. They are also important for learning to speak, and the importance of a good smile should not be ignored.

In addition, primary teeth are important placeholders in the jaw, ensuring that the teeth that follow them are properly positioned. So the stakes remain high: it’s important to protect primary teeth.

Avoiding Baby Bottle Tooth Decay


  • Avoid or eliminate sources of sugar: various kinds of formula or milk (check labels), snacks that are sweetened with sugar, or sweetened liquids such as juices.
  • Do not let your child carry a bottle about with them, as that leads to teeth being perpetually coated in sugar or sugar-producing substances.
  • Never leave a baby with a bottle to go to sleep, unless the bottle has only water. Virtually all other liquids are either loaded with sugar, or will form sugars while the baby sleeps.
  • Put your child to bed with freshly cleaned teeth.
  • Do not share spoons, pacifiers, or bottles with your baby.
  • Avoid transferring saliva to your child’s mouth (as perhaps when cleaning in the area of the mouth). Schedule dental visits as appropriate.
  • For very young children, wipe their gums with a clean, damp gauze pad or washcloth after feeding.
  • Brush the teeth of children up to the age of three gently with a child-sized toothbrush and a tiny amount of toothpaste.
  • From the ages of three to six, supervise brushing with a small amount of toothpaste, seeing that your child brushes, spits, and rinses properly.
  • If your child is using a pacifier, do not dip it in sugar or honey.

Many of these tips amount to developing good habits of dental hygiene early, and maintaining them consistently. Children who rebel at tooth cleaning usually have not started regular dental hygiene early enough to have assimilated it into their habits.

For advice on avoiding Baby Bottle Tooth Decay, managing childhood fluoride exposure, and dealing with the effects of childhood caries, contact the Sherway Gardens Dental Centre.

Visit our office for a consultation
If you like this, then please share!

Recent Articles

What's Interesting?

Orthotreatment with Space Maintainers

What are Ortho-Spacers and Why are They Used? Ortho-spacers (or “space maintainers”) are temporary dental appliances used to maintain a separation between teeth…

· Add Comment

Infant Dental Care

When should dental care begin? A baby’s dental care should begin even before their teeth have appeared. Care begins with cleaning the baby’s…

· Add Comment

COVID-19: The Coronavirus Disease

The world at the moment is deeply concerned about the current and future impacts of a new viral respiratory disease, called “COVID-19”. This blog…

· Add Comment

Diabetes and Oral Health

The connection between oral health and overall heath is perhaps nowhere clearer than in the case of diabetes. Diabetics are at a higher risk of…

· Add Comment
Aging and Oral Health

Aging and Oral Health

The old adage, “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth” applies in some ways to the topic of oral care for the elderly…

· Add Comment

Erosive Tooth Wear

What is Erosive Tooth Wear? The term “erosive tooth wear” broadly describes various types of loss of tooth enamel. Significant erosive tooth wear occurs in…

· Add Comment

Eating Disorders and Dental Health

Eating disorders affect the whole body, and impact oral health as a part of overall health. In addition to negative overall health effects, eating disorders…

· Add Comment

Overcoming Fears of Dentistry

Anxiety, fears, and phobias The anxieties of being a dental patient begin before even going to the dentist: many people balk at visiting a dentist…

· Add Comment
featured-Dentistry for the Pregnant Patient

Dentistry for the Pregnant Patient

Safety concerns During pregnancy, women are particularly attuned to health matters, and dental considerations included. Fortunately, relatively few dental procedures need to be handled differently…

· Add Comment

Care of Dental Implants

The supporting matrix The first thing to remember when thinking of proper care of dental implants is that they are in important ways more like…

· Add Comment

Just How Safe Are Herbal Medications?

Healing with medicinal plants is as old as mankind itself. Herbal medications are typically made from plants, herbs, roots and are known as Complementary Alternative…

· Add Comment