Can Bottle Feeding Lead to Tooth Decay in Your Baby?

When I was a child I had a few traumatic experiences at the dentist and continued to carry fear and anxiety through adulthood. When I became a parent I wanted to be proactive with my boy’s dental hygiene and do everything in my power to prevent trauma to them, so I was brushing their gums and taking them to regular checkups at our pediatric dentist by the age of one.

I am excited to have Dr. Nanna Ariaban from Polka Dot Pediatric Dentist back for another informative post on preventing tooth decay in babies.

happy mother feeds the baby bottle

My baby is already showing signs of tooth decay. Can this be caused by what some people call “baby bottle tooth decay”?

With full schedules as parents these days, it is tempting to let your baby fall asleep with a bottle in its mouth each night, but this is not really a good idea when it comes to preventing cavities.

Fact Number 1: Baby teeth are not permanent teeth.

Fact Number 2: Baby teeth should be cared for as if they were permanent teeth.

Fact Number 3: Tooth decay in babies beginning at the age of TWO is on the rise.

Is it really possible for babies to get cavities where you will need to seek a general dentistry for children to have the cavities filled? Yes—and baby bottle tooth decay is among one of the biggest reasons. More parents opt for bottle feeding over breast feeding due to time restraints, social pressure, health reasons, and convenience. Because of this, babies and young children will be more likely to develop tooth decay, but it can be easily prevented.

Let’s address the facts above. Fact number 1: Baby teeth are not permanent teeth; therefore, many parents will overlook proper oral hygiene practices because they feel their permanent teeth will be coming in later anyway, and the problem will be solved. It doesn’t quite work like that. Healthy baby teeth and gums will help set the foundation for healthy permanent teeth.

Fact Number 2 will ensure your baby will not suffer from tooth decay, as it can be painful. Adults brush after every meal; so should babies. After bottle feeding, wipe the gums clean with wet sanitary gauze or a clean, damp cloth to prepare them for when they begin cutting teeth. The same rule should apply to breast feeding. Until your child can be taught not to swallow toothpaste around the age of 3, you can either begin gently brushing their teeth with water or wiping them clean after feedings. This will substantially cut down on bacterial growth that can cause tooth decay.

Fact number 3 is due to the fact that parents should not allow babies to fall asleep with a bottle in his or her mouth. This upsets the natural pH balance of the baby’s saliva due to pooling milk or juice that is not being swallowed or diluted by saliva. The sugars in the milk or juice create acid which leads to cavities. Breast feeding allows a baby to complete the process of swallowing the milk. When the baby goes to sleep, saliva will begin to naturally dilute the sugars from the milk, resulting in less tooth decay.

This is not to say that breast feeding is better than bottle feeding because breast milk can be pumped into a bottle for greater convenience. In an effort to prevent baby bottle tooth decay, it’s always best to remove the bottle from the baby’s mouth once they drift off to sleep. A children’s dentist can be your best guide on how to prevent tooth decay in your child. They should begin visiting a general dentistry for children at the age of one. Dr. Nanna Ariaban of Polkadot Pediatric Dentistry in Alpharetta says, “Tooth decay in young children can lead to severe pain, infection and tooth loss.” This is easily avoided.

To prevent cavities in children, begin seeing a pediatric dentist on your child’s first birthday, take time to wipe clean their gums and teeth before, during, and after they cut their teeth, and don’t allow them to fall asleep with a baby bottle in their mouth.


Dr. Nanna Ariaban of Polkadot Pediatric Dentistry is a board certified pediatric dentist in Alpharetta Ga, who serves children in other nearby cities including Johns Creeks and Roswell. To learn more Polkadot Pediatric Dentistry or Dr. Nanna Ariaban visit polkadotdental.com website or call (678) 389-6669.


Dr. Nanna Ariaban is a Board Certified Children’s Dentist in Alpharetta, Georgia. Her busy pediatric practice consists of providing dental health care to infants, adolescents, teens, and to children of special needs. Dr. Nanna (as called by her patients) has additional training in administering oral sedation to patients in her office, and also provides extensive dental treatment at hospital facilities.

She is a graduate from the following Universities: University of Maryland: Bachelor of Science Degree in Neurobiology and Physiology; University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine: Doctorate of Dental Medicine; and she attended the University of Illinois-Chicago to become a Board-Certified Pediatric Dentist. Dr. Nanna is a member of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, Georgia Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, the Southeastern Society of Pediatric Dentistry, and the American Dental Association.

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