Baby Bottle Tooth Decay
Alternate Names : BBTD, Baby Bottle Caries, Baby Bottle Mouth
Baby bottle tooth decay is the progressive breakdown of teeth in an infant or toddler. The decay usually begins
in the front teeth and moves back to the molars.
What is going on in the body?
Tooth decay occurs when the enamel, which is the protective coating on the teeth, breaks down. The mouth naturally has
bacteria in it. When a baby drinks liquids through a bottle, the liquids can pool near the gums and teeth. Most liquids contain
sugars. In fact, most foods that people eat ultimately break down to become sugar.
The sugars and bacteria combine to form a substance called dental plaque. When the bacteria break down the
sugars, acids are formed. These acids can erode the enamel on the teeth. The result is damage to the teeth. As the
damage progresses, the decay can lead to:
an abscess, which is an infection and swelling of the tooth and gum
dental caries, also known as cavities,
which are holes in the enamel that expose part of the tooth
severe pain, when the decay reaches the pulp or nerve of the tooth
What are the causes and risks of the condition?
Baby bottle tooth decay occurs when any liquid other than water is in contact with the teeth for a long time.
Sweetened liquids are especially harmful. Milk, formula, fruit juice, and soft drinks can all cause problems.
A child who has a bottle of sweetened liquids several times a day is at risk for tooth decay. Any child who is
allowed to fall asleep with a bottle is also at risk.