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Preventing Baby Bottle Syndrome


Baby teeth play an essential role in infant oral health and, although temporary, are still susceptible to cavities. Baby bottle tooth decay usually occurs on the front teeth or incisors. Cavities that cause tooth decay — also called caries — are caused by too much sugar on the teeth. Learn more about what causes bottle tooth decay, how it is harmful to your infant or child’s oral health, and tips for preventing baby bottle syndrome. 

Preventing Baby Bottle Syndrome

What Is Baby Bottle Syndrome? 

Baby bottle syndrome or early childhood tooth decay, now known as early childhood caries or ECC, is caused by the long-term, frequent subjection of a child’s teeth to liquids that contain sugars. Bacteria in the mouth feed on the sugar, increase and generate acid as a waste product. The acid attacks the tooth enamel and teeth, resulting in tooth decay.

You can find sugar in foods and drinks like:

  • Snacks 
  • Juice
  • Milk
  • Infant formula

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What Causes Baby Bottle Syndrome?

One of the most frequent causes of baby bottle syndrome is the regular, extended contact of the baby’s teeth with sugary drinks. Tooth decay can be the result of:

  • Prolonged exposure of a child’s teeth to sweetened liquids or those containing natural sugars like milk, fruit juice and formula.
  • A bottle being used as a pacifier for a fussy baby.
  • Putting the baby to bed with a bottle.
  • Cavity-causing bacteria being passed from the mother to the infant through the saliva. This can happen when the mother uses her mouth to clean a pacifier or places the baby’s feeding spoon in her mouth. 
  • Giving a baby juice in a sippy cup.

How Baby Bottle Syndrome Is Harmful to the Oral Health of a Child 

Potential problems of baby bottle tooth decay include:

  • Infection if tooth decay is left untreated.
  • The development of poor speech problems or poor eating habits if baby teeth do not develop properly due to deterioration.
  • Adult teeth that may cause crowding or grow in crookedly.
  • Chronic pain.
  • Serious infections.
  • Pain or difficulty chewing.

Tips for Preventing Baby Bottle Syndrome 

You can defend against baby bottle syndrome by:

  • Giving your child water to drink when thirsty.
  • Cleaning your child’s teeth daily.
  • Not allowing your child to sip on a bottle filled with milk, formula or juice for long periods of time.
  • Ensuring your child does not fall asleep with a bottle filled with milk, formula or juice.

Benefits of Good Oral Hygiene

The best way to avoid baby bottle syndrome is to implement good oral hygiene at an early age by:

  • Making sure your child is getting the right amount of fluoride for their stage of tooth development, as it helps lessen cavities. 
  • Wiping your baby’s gums with a washcloth or clean gauze pad after each feeding. 
  • Massaging and cleaning gums in areas without teeth.
  • Flossing regularly once all your baby’s teeth come in.
  • Asking your kid’s dentist if you need fluoride supplements or special sealant coatings for your child. 
  • Scheduling regular dental visits for your child once all of their teeth have come in.

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Talk to Your Kid’s Dentist About Their Oral Health Today 

At Dental Choice, we strive to offer compassionate dental care to the entire family. We serve patients in Calgary and Edmonton with high-quality, professional care. 

Have questions about baby bottle syndrome or ensuring the oral health of your infant or toddler? Contact Dental Choice or request an appointment today.




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