Baby Bottle Tooth Decay - Causes & Prevention | Colgate® SG

Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

In infants, tooth decay is commonly referred to as baby bottle tooth decay. This condition occurs when the natural sugars from liquids such as fruit juices or formula milk latch onto the surface of a child's teeth for an extended period of time. These liquids combine with the bacteria already present inside the child's mouth to create an acid that attacks the structure of the teeth. When left untreated, the child may develop speech problems or crooked teeth because of the damage caused by the infected or lost tooth.

What Causes This Condition?

Tooth decay in young children most commonly occurs when they are put to bed with a bottle every night over an extended period of time, particularly bottles that contain sugary drinks. Over time, prolonged exposure to these types of drinks allows acids to easily attach to the surface of their teeth. Children who are not getting enough fluoride can also suffer from this condition. Additionally, children who have had their pacifiers dipped in a sweet substance are at increased risk as well.

How Can I Prevent This Condition?

Fortunately, this sort of tooth decay is very preventable. Here are a few tips to help you avoid this condition and implement healthy oral hygiene practices for your child.

  • Gently wipe your child's gums and teeth with a wet cloth or gauze pad after every bottle feed to remove any dental plaque and excess sugar that may have built up on the teeth.
  • Start brushing your baby's tooth as soon as it erupts (around six months old).
  • Start adding a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste to your child’s toothbrush when all of their baby teeth have erupted (some time past their second birthday). Consider flossing your child’s teeth when all of their teeth have erupted (between two and three years old).
  • Avoid leaving a bottle of sweetened liquid in your child’s mouth when they are asleep. Start encouraging your child to drink from a cup at six months old and start weaning them off the bottle at about one year old.
  • Encourage your child to drink sweetened fluids such as juices from a cup.

In addition to following these tips, it is also important to schedule your child's first dental appointment around their first birthday and make sure to bring them to the dentist promptly whenever they have dental problems.