Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

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Baby bottle tooth decay occurs in young children when their teeth or gums are exposed to infant formula, milk, juice, or other sweet drinks for long

carbohydrate: food molecule made of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen, including sugars and starches bacteria: single-celled organisms without nuclei, some of which are infectious plaque: material forming deposits on the surface of the teeth, which may promote bacterial growth and decay caries: cavities in the teeth periods of time. This often happens when infants or toddlers fall asleep while sucking on a bottle. Breastfed infants are usually not at risk, unless they feed for extended periods. The carbohydrates in the drink (lactose in milk, or fructose in fruit drinks) mix with the normal bacteria in the mouth. This bacteria is found in the plaque on teeth and gums. When plaque mixes with carbohydrates, acids are formed that dissolve tooth enamel, causing tooth decay and dental caries. To prevent baby bottle tooth decay, a child should not be put in bed with a bottle; and the bottle should be taken away as soon as mealtime is over. Further, only formula or water should be put in a bottle; juices and sweet drinks should be offered in a cup. see also Infant Nutrition; Oral Health.

Heidi J. Silver


American Dietetic Association (1996). "Oral Health and Nutrition: Position of the American Dietetic Association." Journal of the American Dietetic Association 96:184-189.

Johnsen, D. and Nowjack-Raymer, R. (1989). "Baby Bottle Tooth Decay (BBTD): Issues, Assessment, and an Opportunity for the Nutritionist." Journal of the American Dietetic Association 89:1112-1116.

Internet Resource

American Academy of Pediatrics. Baby Bottle Tooth Decay. Available from <http://>

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