Baby Bottle Caries


Last Modified: August 5, 2019


Feeding milk to little ones with bottles is a common practice that is being followed since ages. But have we ever thought, are we doing the right practice? How can it harm our little ones? And do we really need to stop feeding babies with bottles?
One of the most common damaging effect of bottle feeding is dental decay or rightly called baby bottle decay or nursing bottle decay.
Let’s get an insight to understand what actually baby bottle decay means and how it can be prevented.
Nursing caries refers to tooth decay caused in children sleeping with bottles. This is also termed as baby bottle or nursing bottle tooth decay. It is characterised by extensive destruction of most of the milk teeth in infants who hold nursing bottles and pacifiers in their mouths for long periods of time, for example, while falling asleep with the nipple of the bottle or pacifier in the mouth, therefore providing a favorable environment for bacteria to harbour.

Causes of Nursing Bottle Decay

  • Food products such as milk formulas, honey, fruit juices and pacifiers dipped with jelly
  • Feeding at night thus posing a serious threat especially if the teeth not cleaned after feeding
  • Feeding beyond the weaning age, i.e., beyond 12 to 15 months
  • Children affected with sleep disorders
  • Infants with low birth-weight (less than 2.5kg)

Early childhood caries (ECC) has a characteristic black to yellow brownish decay pattern affecting almost all surfaces of milk teeth. Untreated ECC can even lead to pain, swellings and even loss of teeth. This in turn leads to poor speech articulations and loss of confidence in children. Hence, it is vital to treat and prevent such dental decay.

Tips to Prevent Baby Bottle Decay

Creating an awareness amongst parents and educating them about the causes and consequences of ECC is first and foremost part of prevention.

  • Pre-natal counselling shall be primary step towards prevention which involves educating mothers about oral hygiene practices. Various myths related to oral hygiene during pregnancy shall be clarified. They need to be educated about dental development in children and various preventive programmes related to the same.
  • Post-natal counselling is the most important part of preventive management. Proper feeding practices and bottle use, eruption pattern of teeth and teething period of children can be discussed with new parents.
  • Breast-feeding should be encouraged.
  • Children should not be put to sleep with feeding bottle in mouth.
  • Water can be given after feeding with bottles. Otherwise, mouth should be cleaned soon after feeding.
  • Cups to drink liquids should be introduced as early as possible when children start to wean.
  • Lastly to break the habit of bottle feeding, milk or sweetened juices can be introduced with plain boiled water. This dilution is done gradually replacing milk with water.

Good oral health of our little ones lies in our hands. A preventive routine dental checkup for children must be scheduled before the first birthday. Look for kids dentist near me option and visit the best child dentist. Educating the parents on these grounds can be helpful in early detection of ECC, hence limiting its potential complications.


Dr. Alpa Vasishat Sharma;


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