Children's Oral Health

What causes baby bottle tooth decay?

A Answers (2)

  • ADr. William M. Litaker, Dentist, answered

    Baby bottle decay is the result of feeding a baby just before bed time or allowing the baby to take the bottle to bed. The fluids in the bottle cover the teeth and allow the plaque bacteria in the baby's mouth to produce acid. The acid erodes the enamel and causes a cavity. If you do feed your baby before bed time, use a soft wet cloth to clean your baby's teeth.

  • ADr. Heath Cobb, MD, Pediatrics, answered on behalf of Intermountain Healthcare
    Baby bottle tooth decay is a type of early childhood tooth decay (cavity) that occurs when a child frequently uses a bottle with sugared drinks while awake or when she sleeps.

    A tooth can start decaying as soon as it appears. High levels of acid in the mouth cause tooth decay. Acid forms when normal germs inside the mouth interact with sugars and starches. As acid forms, it eats away at the tooth's protective enamel coating. Sugars and starches are found in things like crackers, fruit snacks, juices, soda pop, formula, breast milk, fruit juices, even 100% juice, and other sugared drinks. These can all cause decay if they are in contact with teeth for a long period of time. During the day, it is normal to produce lots of saliva (spit). This helps clean and protect the teeth. At night, the child does not produce as much saliva. This means food and drink stay on the teeth for a much longer time. A bedtime bottle can lead to such severe tooth decay that teeth may break down and require repair or even being pulled.
Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.
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What is baby bottle tooth decay?