Nursing Bottle Caries

Also known as: baby bottle tooth decay, bottle rot, early childhood caries.

What are nursing bottle caries?

The tooth decay that occurs in infants and very young children is often referred to as “baby bottle tooth decay”.

What causes nursing bottle caries?

Nursing bottle caries happens when the sweetened drinks (like milk, formula, fruit juices) or pacifiers dipped in sugar are given to infants and young children, particularly at nap time or at night

The sugars stick to the teeth for a long time allowing mouth bacteria to change the sugar to acids that attack the teeth causing tooth decay.

What are the symptoms of nursing bottle caries? 

Visible tooth decay, particularly the front upper teeth, tooth pain, cavities, infections and the early loss of teeth are all possible outcomes of nursing bottle caries.

What are nursing bottle caries care options?

The best treatment for nursing bottle caries is prevention.

Avoid prolonged exposure of the baby’s teeth to sugary drinks by bottle or pacifier, wipe baby’s gums after each feeding, brush teeth using a fluoride-free toothpaste, (make sure your child is getting sufficient fluoride), and take your child for a dental visit on their first birthday.

Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD, FAAP

This page was last updated on: June 25, 2021 11:22 AM

Children's Dental Services

Nicklaus Children’s Hospital pediatric dentistry facilities meet the unique needs of healthy infants, children, and adolescents, while also addressing the special concerns of patients with complex medical and dental issues.

Learn More