Nursing Bottle Caries

The tooth decay that occurs in infants and very young children is often referred to as baby bottle tooth decay or nursing bottle caries. Nursing improperly often becomes a big reason for tooth decay and caries in babies if mother doesn't take proper care during or after feeding the babies. The way to prevent is to get the baby tooth cared from the very first day itself. Nursing bottle caries is kind of tooth decay associated with nursing, when the baby sucks the pacifier, or takes other sugary juices or drinks, or formula milk from a nursing bottle.

Causes Of Nursing Bottle Caries

  • The babies are often fed in nursing bottles or feeding bottles, and the bottle nipple often stays in the mouth for longer period of time, sometimes overnight also if not taken care of.
  • Sometimes, the babies are pacified with pacifiers, which are often dipped in honey or a sugar solution, and this again brings in more reasons for dental caries.

In any of the situations described above, the baby’s newly formed teeth which are susceptible to all forms of decay which ultimately causes cavities. The sugary liquids and milk can form a coating on the teeth which brings in cavities by attracting bacteria to change the sugar to acids that attack the teeth causing tooth decay.

Nursing Bottle Caries
Nursing Bottle Caries


Symptoms of nursing bottle caries include visible tooth decay, particularly in the front upper teeth, tooth pain if involves the innermost layer of teeth i.e. the pulp, infections, the teeth begins to break slowly and causes the early loss of teeth.


The best option to prevent is not to leave the baby with the bottle or pacifier for longer period of time. The pacifier or the bottle should be always washed properly, sterilized and not left in the mouth of the baby uncared, especially during sleep time, when the baby sleeps while sucking onto them.

Nursing Bottle Caries
Nursing Bottle Caries

There are some steps to follow to prevent the early tooth decay and maintain baby dental hygiene. They are as follows

  • Even before the first tooth comes erupts, massage and clean the baby’s gums with a clean washcloth or soft cotton every day, and after every long feeding to prevent caries.
  • You don’t need toothpaste to start brushing the first few primary teeth that come out. Just brush without a toothpaste and use a very soft gentle brush to just form the habit. In areas where no tooth has come up, brush and massage the gums only.
  • When all the teeth got erupted, start flossing every day to prevent food lodgment.
  • Try to take the baby for a dental checkup at least every year if every six months is not possible.
  • Try to cut down the consumption of extra sweet beverages. Add some water to the fruit juice to dilute the concentration and sweetness. All these steps mentioned above are great to start healthy and good dental care and hygiene, and if you follow them well, then dental caries can be prevented.

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