Understanding and Preventing Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

Many parents, particularly new parents, may not realize the risks of tooth decay in their children. Tooth decay is one of the single most widespread diseases among children – it’s five times more common than asthma and over 15 times more common than diabetes, for instance.

At Southridge Pediatric Dentistry, our pediatric dental services include a full range of preventive areas designed to keep your child from the risks of tooth decay, from cleanings to X-rays and much more. One particular type of tooth decay that many parents aren’t aware of is called baby bottle tooth decay – let’s look at what this is and how you can prevent it from happening to your infant.

preventing baby bottle tooth decay

Basics and Signs

Baby bottle tooth decay is a form of tooth decay that happens to infants who use bottles, as the name suggests. It’s caused by prolonged exposure to high-sugar drinks in the bottle, and is known to primarily impact the upper front teeth – the ones that are closest to the bottle and tend to come into contact with it the most.

In most cases, the first visible symptoms of baby bottle tooth decay is white spots that begin to appear on the surface of the teeth or gum line. Your infant may also show some tooth sensitivity and pain in the area. If the condition is allowed to advance, you may also notice brown or black spots on the teeth, bleeding or swollen gums, bad breath, and even a fever. Any of these latter symptoms should cause you to seek dental care right away.

Prevention Tips

In most cases, however, you can avoid baby bottle tooth decay by taking a few simple precautions. These include:

  • Bottles and bed: For some parents, sending the baby to bed with a bottle of milk is a nightly ritual. But unfortunately, milk is high in sugar content, and leaving them with unlimited access to it raises their risk of exposure to this sugar. This same thing can be said for juice and bed, though there are some juice brands that at least limit their sugar content. If your child needs a bottle for sleep, we recommend using water only.
  • Cleaning: Even if your child does not have teeth that have grown in yet, wipe their gums off with a clean cloth after each meal to remove and lasting sugar.
  • First tooth: When your child does get their first tooth, brush it and all others gently with a soft-bristled brush.
  • Limit other exposure to sugar, both in drinks and in foods consumed by the child.

For more on how to prevent the risks of baby bottle tooth decay, or to learn about any of our pediatric dental services, speak to the staff at Southridge Pediatric Dentistry today.