Infants and very young children often suffer from “tooth decay” due to contact with sweetened liquids or liquids with natural sugar, like milk, fruit juice and formula milk. This condition is known as baby bottle tooth decay. If left untreated, a severe infection can affect several of your little one’s chompers. Read on about all you need to know about this tooth condition in children.

An Insight Into Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

The entire process starts when your little one consumes something with sugar in it. The mouth bacteria spreads quickly after coming into contact with sugar, and this process makes acids that attach to the teeth. It’s these acids that start the tooth decay process.

Children whose pacifiers are dipped into sugar-containing liquids or syrup are at a higher risk of developing baby bottle tooth decay. Moreover, it is never a good idea to give a sugary drink to an infant near his nap time or at night, as the flow of saliva reduces while sleeping. This makes the sugar stay in the mouth for longer, worsening the process. [1]

Baby bottle tooth decay generally impacts upper front teeth. However, if the infection is severe, it may go on to affect other teeth too.

baby bottle tooth decay

Why Should You Prevent Tooth Decay In A Baby?

People usually believe those baby teeth are not that important as they are only there for a certain amount of time, after which they fall off. However, this is a completely wrong belief, as baby teeth play a vital role. They help the child in learning to chew, smile, and speak properly. Moreover, they also hold the place for adult teeth.

If you leave baby bottle tooth decay untreated, it may lead to severe pain and infection in the mouth. In some conditions, you may also have to consider removing the infected teeth to avoid pain.

Problems Baby Bottle Tooth Decay May Cause:

There are plenty of problems your baby may develop due to this condition. Here are a few of those –

  • Poor eating habits
  • Impaired speech
  • Crooked (uneven) teeth
  • Damaged adult teeth

There is a high possibility of adult teeth also growing in crooked shape.

How To Prevent Baby Bottle Tooth Decay?

Fortunately, there are some simple oral hygiene steps to keep this problem at bay –

  • Every time you feed your baby, you must wipe the baby’s gums with a washcloth.
  • Teeth brushing, without toothpaste, should start as soon as the first tooth grows. The baby’s fluoride needs usually get fulfilled through the water we give them, so using fluoride-based toothpaste is not really necessary for children up until the age of 8 years. [2].
  • However, you may have to fulfill the fluoride needs through toothpaste or supplements if there is no fluoride in the water supply of your area. It must be done only after consulting with a pediatrician or a dentist. [2]
  • Do not leave areas of mouth uncleaned where there are no teeth as of now.
  • Once you see all the baby teeth in the mouth, floss them.
  • You should also see a dentist regularly before your baby turns one year old. At times, they recommend special sealant coatings, which help in preventing tooth decay.
  • Never fill bottles with sugar water or soft drinks as they have zero nutritional value. Bottles should only be filled with milk, formula milk, water, and special electrolyte-containing solutions when the child suffers from diarrhea.
  • Don’t let your child sleep with a bottle having anything except water.
  • The orthodontic pacifier shouldn’t also be dipped in anything sweet.
  • Reduce your child’s sugar consumption as much as you can.

If your baby has already started liking nothing but sugary drinks, it can still be overturned. You just have to be smart to cut down the risk of baby bottle tooth decay. Here are a few tips –

  • Start gradually diluting the liquids you give your child in a bottle with water.
  • After doing this for about 2-3 weeks, you can start giving plain water, and most probably, your child won’t be able to understand the difference.


Always remember, baby teeth are just as important as adult teeth. They may stay with the baby for a shorter period of time, but ensuring their health ensures healthy permanent teeth. Hence, do not take it lightly, and follow all the hygiene protocols to give your child the gift of strong and healthy teeth. Ensure you also use the aid of apps like ImmunifyMe to keep track of your child’s milestones.


Is Baby Bottle Tooth Decay Reversible?

Yes, you can reverse the damage of baby bottle tooth decay, but only if it is minimal. You can do this with the help of fluoride. Consult your baby’s dentist to know more about how to use fluoride for your baby.

When Does Baby Bottle Tooth Decay Occur?

Baby bottle tooth decay takes place over a period of time if your baby has too much sugary liquid, if you do not clean their gums/floss their teeth, and if their pacifier is dipped into juice or anything sugary.

Can A Baby Bottle Ruin Teeth?

Baby bottles can contribute to tooth decay in infants who still use bottles or pacifiers. This happens when they have too many sugary drinks.

How Do You Prevent Tooth Decay In Babies With Bottles?

The most important step to reduce tooth decay in babies is to limit the number of sugary drinks they have. Secondly, ensure you start to gently brush their teeth without toothpaste as soon as the first tooth shows up. Lastly, keep visiting the dentist for regular checkups.

References –

[1] Salivary flow patterns and the health of hard and soft oral tissues

[2] – Promoting Oral Health