5 Causes of Bottle Rot, Why it Matters, and Fighting It

Mar 21, 2023

Mom and Baby

At Castle Creek Pediatric Dentistry, we care about your child’s teeth.  That care starts before your baby’s teeth even emerge, and lasts until their permanent teeth grow in and beyond.  You might wonder why it matters how you treat your baby’s gums and baby teeth, when permanent teeth are what they’ll be left with in the end.  Keep reading to find out what can happen to baby teeth, why it matters to your child’s future, and how to care for your baby to ensure healthy and happy permanent teeth.  

Baby Bottle Rot

Baby bottle tooth decay, also known as “bottle rot,” early childhood caries, or nursing caries, is a dental condition that occurs in young children, usually under the age of three, who have prolonged exposure to sugary liquids, such as milk, formula, juice, and soda, in their baby bottles. The term “bottle rot” can be misleading, as it suggests that the decay is caused by the bottle itself. However, it is the frequent and prolonged exposure to sugary liquids that can lead to tooth decay, rather than the bottle itself.

Here are some of the main causes of baby bottle tooth decay:

  1. Prolonged bottle feeding: Allowing a child to fall asleep with a bottle in their mouth, or letting them drink from a bottle for extended periods, increases the exposure of the teeth to sugary liquids and leads to tooth decay.
  2. Frequent snacking: Giving a child sugary snacks or drinks frequently throughout the day, or allowing them to sip on a bottle throughout the day, also increases their risk of tooth decay.
  3. Poor oral hygiene: Neglecting to clean a child’s teeth and gums properly, or not doing so frequently enough, can lead to the buildup of plaque and bacteria that cause decay.
  4. Bottle propping: Allowing a child to hold their own bottle or propping it up in their mouth can lead to sugary liquids pooling around the teeth and causing decay.
  5. Parental dental health: If the parents or caregivers have poor dental hygiene or have untreated dental issues, they can pass harmful bacteria to the child through saliva, increasing the risk of tooth decay.

Baby bottle tooth decay can cause significant damage to a child’s teeth, and if left untreated, it can lead to pain, infection, and even the loss of teeth. 

Why Bottle Rot or Baby Tooth Decay Matters

Infant tooth decay can affect permanent teeth. Baby teeth are important for a child’s overall oral health, as they act as placeholders for the permanent teeth that will eventually emerge. If baby teeth are lost prematurely due to decay, it can affect the alignment and spacing of the permanent teeth.

Furthermore, the bacteria that cause tooth decay in baby teeth can also affect the development of permanent teeth, which can lead to a higher risk of decay and other dental problems in the future.

It is important to address infant tooth decay promptly to prevent further damage and reduce the risk of future dental issues. This includes regular dental check-ups and cleanings, practicing good oral hygiene at home, and limiting sugary snacks and drinks.

How to Fight Baby Tooth Decay or Bottle Rot

Infant tooth decay can be prevented by following some simple measures, such as:

  1. Avoid prolonged bottle feeding: Try to avoid allowing your baby to fall asleep with a bottle in their mouth or allowing them to continuously drink from a bottle throughout the day. This can lead to prolonged exposure to sugary liquids, which can cause tooth decay.
  2. Clean your baby’s teeth and gums: Clean your baby’s teeth and gums with a soft cloth or a baby toothbrush and water after each feeding. Once your baby’s teeth have fully erupted, you can use a small amount of fluoride toothpaste on the toothbrush.
  3. Avoid sugary drinks and snacks: Limit your baby’s consumption of sugary drinks and snacks, such as juice and candy. Opt for healthier options like water and fresh fruits and vegetables instead.
  4. Schedule regular dental check-ups: Take your baby to the dentist for regular check-ups, starting as early as six months of age, or when the first tooth emerges. The dentist can detect and treat any dental problems early on and provide guidance on proper oral care.
  5. Encourage healthy habits: Encourage your child to adopt healthy habits, such as eating a balanced diet, brushing twice a day, and flossing daily, to maintain good oral health throughout their life.

By following these preventative measures, you can help reduce the risk of infant tooth decay and promote good oral health for your baby.

How Castle Creek Can Help

At Castle Creek Pediatric Dentistry we are proud to serve the infants and children of North Ogden and their parents in maintaining health teeth and gums and avoiding bottle rot. Schedule an appointment today so that we can detect and treat any problems with your child’s teeth and help you teach them how to care for their teeth at home. Begin a legacy of health with Castle Creek Pediatric Dentistry