Baby bottle tooth decay, also known as early childhood caries, is a common yet preventable dental issue that affects infants and toddlers. This condition occurs when the natural bacteria in your child’s mouth feed on sugars from liquids like milk, formula, fruit juice and sweetened drinks, producing acids that erode tooth enamel.

You might be wondering how this decay starts. Often, it is linked to prolonged exposure to sugary drinks, especially when a child falls asleep with a bottle. During sleep, the flow of saliva decreases, allowing the sugary liquid to pool around the teeth and create an environment where bacteria thrive. Additionally, sharing saliva through spoons, cups or pacifiers can transfer harmful bacteria from your mouth to your child’s, increasing the risk of decay.

Preventing baby bottle tooth decay is simpler than you might think. Here are some effective strategies:

  • Always rinse pacifiers and toys with clean water. Avoid cleaning them in your mouth or sharing utensils with your child.
  • Never put sugary drinks in bottles or sippy cups. If your child needs a bottle at bedtime, fill it only with water.
  • Avoid dipping pacifiers in honey or other sweet substances.
  • Encourage the transition from bottle to regular cup by your child’s first birthday.
  • Maintain a balanced diet for your child, avoiding excessive sugary snacks.
  • After each feeding, gently wipe your child’s gums with a clean, damp washcloth.
  • As soon as teeth begin to appear, use a soft-bristled, age-appropriate toothbrush with a small amount of fluoride toothpaste.
  • Brush your child’s teeth for them until they are about 7 years old, as they lack the fine motor skills needed for thorough cleaning.

Lastly, discuss with our dentist to ensure your child is receiving the appropriate amount of fluoride, which helps protect against decay.

If you have any questions about baby bottle tooth decay in Boise, Idaho, or need to schedule an appointment with Dr. Gregory Davis, please call State Street Dental at 208-939-1700. Taking these steps now can help ensure your child’s smile remains healthy and bright.