Baby Bottle Tooth Decay | Pediatric Dentistry

Although temporary, a child’s teeth are very important for long term development. These teeth are still subject to oral health problems like cavities. Infants and toddlers tooth decay is regularly referred as Baby Bottle Tooth Decay. To promote overall health and overall healthy teeth, its strongly encouraged for kids to take care of their baby teeth as they assist with their adult teeth coming in properly.

What Can Cause Baby Bottle Tooth Decay?

There are several factors that can cause tooth decay. A very common cause is the persistent and prolonged exposure of teeth to drinks that contain sugar. This decay often occurs when the baby is laid down to bed with a bottle, or when a bottle is used as a pacifier for a fussy baby. Decaying from a bottle most often occurs in the upper front teeth, but other teeth can also be affected.

Cavity-causing bacteria from the mother (or primary caregiver) can be passed to the infant and result in tooth decay. Bacteria can be passed via saliva. When a mother cleans a pacifier in her mouth, or puts the baby’s feeding spoon in her mouth,  the bacteria can ultimately be passed to the baby.

How to Prevent Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

In effort to prevent a baby’s tooth decay, try not to share saliva with the baby through feeding spoons or cleaning pacifiers. Furthermore, after each feeding, clean your child’s gums with a  damp gauze pad or washcloth to wipe away any residual debris. When the child’s teeth end up coming in, brush them gently with a child-size toothbrush and a smear (or grain of rice sized amount) of toothpaste until the age of 3.
From the ages of 3 to 6, continue to brush the teeth with a small amount of fluoride toothpaste. Always, monitor brushing until your child can be counted on to brush the full 2 minutes twice a day and spit versus swallow the toothpaste—generally this does not happen before the age of 6 or 7.

Encourage Healthy Habits

Children do not know any better of what they put into their bodies. It is up to the parents to encourage healthy practices. In doing so, place only formula, milk, or breastmilk into bottles for their consumption. Stay away from filling the bottle with liquids like sugar water, soft drinks, or even juice. Try not to allow infants to take a bottle bedtime or nap time, make sure they finish it prior to. In the case of a pacifier, provide one that is clean—refrain from dipping it in honey or sugar.

Upon your child’s first tooth, be sure to talk to your preferred dentist about scheduling their first dental visit. Starting early is the key to a lifetime of good dental health and overall health.  If you have any questions or concerns about your little one, give a call at (541) 389-2905 or reach us via email

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