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What is Early Childhood Tooth Decay or "Bottle Rot"?

It may be hard to understand why babies might be susceptible to tooth decay with such limited diets, but consider this: babies often go to bed with a bottle of milk, formula or juice.  These are the babies most likely to develop tooth decay. The sugar in these liquids stays in contact with the teeth for the entire night as they sleep, so bacteria have plenty of time to go to work, resulting in decay forming rather quickly.

Here are a few very important things that will GREATLY reduce your child’s chances of developing early childhood tooth decay:

  • Don't put your child to bed with a bottle of milk or juice; if he or she is thirsty at night, only give water
  • Have your child drink water instead of juice or other sweet drinks during the day
  • Clean your child's teeth after the last feeding before bed
  • Try not to let your child walk around with a bottle of milk or juice
  • Start to teach your child to drink from a cup at about six months
  • Plan to stop using a bottle by 12 to 14 months at the latest
  • Don't dip your child's pacifier in honey or sugar

Understanding Cavities

What Causes Tooth Decay or Cavities?

Our mouths are inhabited by many different types of bacteria, some harmful ones, and some non-harmful ones.  Certain bacteria attach themselves to our teeth, where they multiply and form colonies.  Proteins from our saliva mix with the bacteria to form a film on our teeth called plaque.  Brushing and flossing are necessary twice a day to remove this plaque film from our teeth.  When sugar is introduced to the mouth, the harmful bacteria feed on it and produce acid as a byproduct.  This acid then breaks down our tooth structure, causing cavities.  This is why limiting sugar intake and practicing good oral hygiene habits are so important.