Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

As soon as a baby’s teeth appear they are subject to baby bottle tooth decay, a condition caused by frequent exposure to sugary liquids for long periods of time. Although it most often occurs in the upper front teeth, all teeth may be affected and potentially destroyed. The following information outlines how to prevent baby bottle tooth decay.


What causes baby bottle tooth decay?
Decay is caused by sweetened liquids that cling to infant’s teeth for a long period of time. Bacteria in the mouth feed off sugars in liquids such as milk, formula and juice and then produce tooth-attacking acids. Each time an infant drinks sugary liquids, acid attacks the teeth for at least 20 minutes, and after many attacks the teeth can decay.

How can baby bottle tooth decay be prevented?
Often parents do not realize how soon a baby’s teeth can decay. By the time decay is noticed, it may be too late to save the teeth. The following are ways in which baby bottle tooth decay can be prevented:

  • Wipe the baby’s teeth with a clean gauze pad after each feeding.
  • Begin brushing the baby’s teeth as soon as the first tooth erupts and continue to clean gums in toothless areas.
  • Begin flossing when all baby teeth are present.
  • Never allow the baby to fall asleep with a bottle containing sugary liquids.
  • Never give your child a pacifier dipped in sweet liquids.
  • If your local water supply does not contain fluoride, ask your dentist how the baby should receive it.
  • Visit the dentist by the baby’s first birthday and continue regular visits.


American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry: Dental Care for Your Baby
American Dental Association: Baby Bottle Tooth Decay
American Dental Association: Baby Teeth
News Release: PDA Stresses the Importance of Caring For Your Child’s BabyTeeth