male infant sucking on a bottle and playing with his toes

What Is Baby Bottle Tooth Decay?

While your child’s first set of teeth are temporary, they are still susceptible to tooth decay which can lead to other problems. It is important to keep your child’s first set of teeth healthy. Children need to have strong and healthy teeth to chew their food and speak. Not to mention that irresistible baby smile. Your child’s first teeth also help make sure their adult teeth come in correctly.

Tooth decay in infants and toddlers is known as Baby Bottle Tooth Decay or what is called Early Child Caries, and it is important that your infant has good oral care in order to help protect their teeth for years to come.

What Causes Baby Bottle Tooth Decay?

The upper front teeth are most often impacted by Baby Bottle Tooth Decay, but it can happen to the other teeth as well.

There are quite a few factors that can cause tooth decay in your infants and toddlers. The most common cause is of course from their bottle and the nutrition within, but it is generally from what they are eating and how long they are exposed to it. A good example of the cause of tooth decay is sugar. Prolonged exposure to sugary drinks will cause tooth decay in anyone, but you may not realize that your children are getting that kind of exposure.

Tooth decay can occur if your baby is put to bed with a bottle or when a bottle is used as a pacifier. It is these types of situations where the sugar in their drink sits in their mouth for an extended period allowing for the sugar to begin attacking their teeth. Tooth decay – more often than not – begins with cavities. Cavities generally come from frequent and prolonged exposure to sugar or other cavity-causing bacteria.

The good news is that Baby Bottle Tooth Decay is preventable.

Preventing Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

Let’s cover some of the most important factors in Baby Bottle Tooth Decay prevention.

  • Your saliva and your child’s saliva are very different. It is best not to mix the two as your children’s teeth may be more susceptible to the bacteria in your mouth. Things like sharing a spoon can spread unwanted bacteria.
  • Once your child’s teeth have come in, give them a gentle brushing with a small toothbrush and an even smaller amount of toothpaste if you want.
  • Make sure to supervise your child’s brushing until you are certain they can be counted on to brush correctly and spit out the toothpaste. We find that about 6 or 7 years of age seems to be when children begin to brush their own teeth correctly.
  • Make sure to use a bottle for formula, milk or breast milk. Avoid using their bottles for juice or other sugary drinks.
  • Avoid sending your children to bed with a bottle as much as possible. Infants and toddlers should finish their bottle before going to bed.
  • Try and avoid dipping your child’s pacifier in honey or something sweet. It is best to keep it clean.
  • Use encouragement to get your child to drink from a cup on his or her first birthday.
  • Healthy habits are easiest to enforce early on and will have the best impact on them for the rest of their lives.

Once your child has their first tooth appear, give us a call at Eagle Rock Dental Care in Rexburg. Starting early is the key to a lifetime of healthy habits. For more information or to schedule an appointment, give us a call during our office hours or schedule an appointment online. We are excited to help you teach your children the importance of healthy habits for a healthy smile.


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