Tooth enamel is a very hard tooth structure. A thin sticky film that forms on the teeth is called “plaque.” Plaque has bacteria. With the consumption of refined carbohydrates and sugary drinks, the bacteria in plaque form acids. The acid that is thus produced attacks the healthy enamel and starts tooth decay.

Sugar + Bacteria from Plaque = Acid
Acid + Healthy Tooth = Decay

Usually in pits and fissures of the teeth and surfaces between the teeth, untreated cavities grow and destroy large portions of the teeth. This can extend to the pulp (nerve) and initiate infection leading to abscess formation.

Baby Bottle Cavities

Sugary liquids fed from bottles can cause cavitiesSometimes parents and other caregivers do not realize that a baby’s teeth are susceptible to decay (cavities) as soon as they appear in the mouth. By the time decay is noticed, it may be too late to save the child’s teeth. Decay in infants and very young children is known as Baby Bottle Tooth Decay (BBTD). The good news is that it’s preventable.

What is Baby Bottle Tooth Decay and how does it happen?

Baby bottle tooth decay, also called nursing bottle syndrome, is a dental condition that can destroy the teeth of an infant or young child. It occurs when a child’s teeth are frequently exposed to sugary liquids for long periods. Among these are milk (including breast milk), formula, fruit juice and other sweetened liquids. It is not just what children drink, but how often and how long their teeth are exposed to decay causing acids. That’s why frequently offering your child a bottle containing sugary liquid as a pacifier or allowing your child to fall asleep with a bottle during naps or at night can do serious harm to the teeth. During sleep, the flow of saliva decreases, allowing the sweetened liquids from the bottle to pool around the child’s teeth for long periods. This greatly increases your child’s risk for decay. The teeth most likely to get cavities are the upper front teeth however, other teeth can also be decayed.

Prevention of Baby Bottle Cavities

  1. Never allow your child to fall asleep with a bottle containing milk, formula, fruit juices, or sweetened liquids.

  2. Do not use a pacifier dipped in sugar or honey.

  3. Clean child’s teeth and gums with gauze or wash cloth after feeding

  4. Start brushing child’s teeth as soon as they emerge in the mouth.

  5. Schedule early dental visits.

  6. Educate your caregiver and family members. Preventing baby bottle cavities is a team effort.