In this article
Bottle rot is a term for tooth decay in infants, babies, or toddlers. It usually occurs in the upper front teeth. The upper front teeth are more prone to decay because that’s where the milk residue usually gathers.
All baby teeth typically erupt by three years of age. Thinner enamel makes them more susceptible to tooth decay or cavities.
Bottle rot mainly occurs due to excessive bottle-feeding with milk formulas high in sugar or fruit juices. Here are other reasons that could lead to a bottle rot:
Bottle rot or early childhood caries (ECC) appear as dark brown spots or tiny holes in your child’s teeth. Common symptoms of major decay include:
If the decay has become severe, symptoms may include:
It’s crucial to take extra care of baby teeth during infancy to prevent cavities and other dental health conditions. To reduce the chance of decay, oral care habits should begin as soon as birth, throughout infancy, and beyond.
Good oral care during pregnancy involves:
Women should also adopt healthy eating habits to supplement this routine. A child is three times more likely to develop cavities if their mother has untreated tooth decay.1
To prevent baby bottle tooth decay, practice good oral hygiene and follow these baby feeding practices:
Before a baby’s first primary tooth appears and grows, cleaning the gums twice daily with a washcloth is essential. This ensures the elimination of bacteria and sugar from the mouth.
Practicing this routine will make tooth decay less likely to occur once baby teeth begin to erupt. It also helps the baby become accustomed to a parent cleaning their mouth daily.
When it comes to cleaning your baby’s gums and teeth, you can also:
Children need fluoride in their diets to help prevent early childhood caries (ECC). If the water supply in an area isn’t fluoridated adequately, a fluoride supplement is necessary.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that children between 6 months and three years of age need .25mg of fluoride daily. Children between 3 and 6 need .5mg of fluoride.
Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that helps prevent tooth decay. Studies have shown that fluoride reduces the risk of decay by up to 50 percent in baby teeth. It also reduces corrosion by up to 65 percent in permanent teeth of children exposed to fluoridated water since birth.2
If a child is experiencing bottle rot symptoms, they’ll likely need a dental restoration to treat the infected tooth. Depending on the severity of the decay, a pediatric dentist will recommend:
After your child’s baby teeth fall out and the adult teeth grow completely, you can get tooth sealants. You apply them on adult teeth that don’t have cavities yet. The coating keeps acid, food particles, and cavity-causing bacteria out of newly erupted teeth.
Dental caries is one of the most prevalent childhood diseases.3 Studies show that tooth decay in children under six can lead to a higher risk of compromised permanent teeth.3,4
Healthy baby teeth result in healthy permanent or adult teeth. Bottle rot can negatively affect adult teeth in two ways:
If the adult teeth partially emerge through the gums, they can develop cavities. Permanent (adult) teeth can’t get an infection from a primary tooth when under the gums because they’re in a sterile environment.
If you extract the primary tooth due to severe decay, permanent teeth will grow into the open space. This might cause an incorrect bite and crowded teeth.
Children will typically need orthodontic treatment, such as braces or clear aligners, once all permanent teeth grow. If they lose primary teeth prematurely, space maintainers can keep permanent teeth in alignment as they grow.
We reached out to Dr. Shahrooz Yazdani, CEO and Director of Yazdani Family Dentistry Kanata, to learn more about bottle rot. Here’s what he has to say:
“To prevent bottle rot, ensure you clean your baby’s mouth with a damp washcloth after feeding. Do not expose them to your own saliva or other people, as this can transmit cavity-causing bacteria.”
“Be sure to take care of their teeth by brushing gently once they come in. Use just water to start and then a bit of fluoride toothpaste once the baby has multiple teeth. Never coat bottles or pacifiers in sugary substances, and do not leave a baby with a bottle for nap time.”
“Check your baby’s teeth for white or brown spots each time you brush, which can be indicative of decay. If you do see a spot, it is best to book an appointment with a dentist to assess your child’s oral health. Brushing with fluoride toothpaste regularly can help reverse mild signs of decay, but it is best to seek a professional opinion for your child’s unique condition.”
In this article