What is baby bottle tooth decay and how can you prevent it?

Baby teeth are incredibly important for your children. Helping permanent teeth come in correctly, it’s vital that baby teeth are looked after.

Common in children under five years of age, baby bottle tooth decay can seriously harm your child’s baby teeth. But what exactly is baby bottle tooth decay and how can you prevent your child from getting it?

What is baby bottle tooth decay?

Baby bottle tooth decay is caused by sweetened liquids clinging to children’s teeth for a long time. Bacteria in the mouth will feed on the sugary liquid, creating an acid that dissolves your children’s teeth.

The risk of baby bottle tooth decay is increased when your child drinks from a baby bottle, has a lot of sugary food or drinks or uses a pacifier (dummy) that’s dipped in sugar or honey.

Baby bottle tooth decay will dissolve your children’s teeth and can cause severe pain or tooth loss. Damage to baby teeth can cause your child to develop poor eating habits, speech problems as well as crooked or damaged permanent teeth.

How can you prevent it?

There are many tips you can follow to reduce the risk of your child getting baby bottle tooth decay.

1. Reduce use of baby bottles

Teach your children to drink from cups as soon as possible. Drinking from cups reduces the risk of liquid collecting around the teeth and makes it easier for them to wean off a baby bottle. At night time, try to stop your child taking a bottle to bed as drinking from bottles overnight can be particularly harmful. If your child does take a bottle to bed, make sure it is filled with water instead of milk or other sugary drinks.

2. Swap sugary drinks for water

Limit the number of sugary drinks like milk or juice your child has through the day. Encourage your child to drink water outside of meal times to prevent baby bottle tooth decay.

3. Give your child clean pacifiers

If your child has a pacifier, do not dip it into sugar or honey. It’s also important to avoid cleaning pacifiers with your mouth, as bacteria from your mouth can be transferred to your child.

4. Encourage a healthier diet

Encourage a healthier diet for your children and avoid giving them sweet, sugary foods. By avoiding sugary foods, your child reduces the risk of bacteria forming harmful acids and causing baby bottle tooth decay.

5. Clean your infant’s gums after meals

After meals, use a wet cloth or gauze to wipe your child’s teeth and gums. This helps remove any bacteria-forming plaque and excess sugar that have built up on the teeth and gums.

6. Brush their teeth

Once the first tooth starts to show, it’s important that you start a daily brushing routine. Brushing your child’s teeth will not only help with baby bottle tooth decay, but encourage great oral health.

7. Get your child used to regular dental appointments

From the time their first tooth arrives or they reach one year old, you should start booking regular dental appointments for your child. These appointments will get your child used to visiting the dentist and will ensure that their teeth develop correctly without any problems.


Baby bottle tooth decay is caused by sugary liquids and foods that cling to children’s teeth. The sugary liquids react with bacteria in the mouth to create acids which dissolve teeth.

Left untreated, tooth decay can cause many problems for your children including severe pain, tooth loss, damaged to their speech and permanent teeth. Yet, baby bottle tooth decay can be prevented by regular brushing, limiting your child’s bottle use and encouraging them to eat and drink less sugary foods and drinks.

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