Baby-bottle Tooth Decay: Prevention
Most damage to the teeth during the first 2 years of life is due to baby bottle tooth decay. Sleeping with a bottle in the mouth that contains milk, fruit juice, Jello water or any other sweetened liquid can cause severe decay of the newly erupting teeth. The sugar in these drinks is converted to acid by the normal bacteria of the mouth. Since liquids tend to pool in the mouth during sleep, this acid eats away at the enamel. The brown or black areas of decay first occur on the edges of the upper teeth. Treatment is not easy. The teeth often need to be covered with stainless steel caps or pulled. Prevent this dental tragedy by not using the bottle as a pacifier.
- First: Don't allow your child to fall asleep with a bottle in the mouth. Place him in the crib after he has finished his bottle.
- Second: Don't allow your child to carry a bottle around during the day. Constant sipping on the bottle can also damage the enamel. Give him a toy or security object instead.
- Third: Don’t allow your child to have constant access to a sippy-cup. Overuse of sippy cups can also cause "tooth rot".
- Fourth: If you can't discontinue the nighttime bottle or replace it with a pacifier, fill it with water. This approach will prevent tooth decay, although it may not improve sleep problems.
- Fifth: Dental decay has even occurred in breast-feeding babies. This rare event happens if the mother sleeps with her infant and repeatedly falls asleep with her baby on the breast. Even breast milk contains sugar.
If you have other questions about your child's teeth, consult your healthcare provider or dentist.
Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.
Author and Senior Reviewer: Barton D. Schmitt, M.D. FAAP
Last Review: 6/1/2008
Last Revised: 7/1/2005
Copyright 1994-2008 Barton Schmitt, M.D. Parent Advice Messages.