Baby Bottle Decay

Early Childhood Caries “ECC”

What causes tooth decay?

Photo of an empty baby bottleSeveral specific types of bacteria that live on the teeth cause decay. When sugar is consumed the bacteria use the sugar and then manufacture acids that dissolve the teeth and cause an infection in the tooth. This infection is called decay.

What is “baby-bottle” tooth decay?

Babies who go to bed with a bottle of milk, formula or juice are more likely to get tooth decay. Because the sugar in formula, milk or juice stays in contact with the teeth for a long time during the night, the teeth can decay quickly. Babies who are nursed to sleep are also at risk for dental decay.

Here are some tips to avoid baby-bottle tooth decay:

  1. Put your child to bed with a clean mouth. If a bottle is necessary, make sure it contains only water.
  2. Try not to let your child walk around using a bottle of milk or juice as a pacifier.
  3. Start to teach your child to drink from a cup at about 6 months of age. Plan to stop using a bottle by 12 to 14 months at the latest.
  4. Don’t dip your child’s pacifier in honey or sugar.

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