Bottle Mouth is a term used to describe tooth decay that results from putting a baby to bed with a bottle that contains anything except water. When baby teeth have frequent and prolonged contact with too much sugar from milk or juice in a bottle.
Children at risk for bottle mouth take bottles of milk or juice to bed at naptime and bedtime or carry sugary beverages or milk around during the day. It is usually worse when a baby or young children fall asleep with a bottle or sippy cup in their mouth.
Bottle mouth cavities develop when babies are put to bed with a bottle, when a bottle is used as a pacifier, or if a baby or toddler uses a bottle or sippy cup frequently throughout the day and night. The bacteria already in the baby’s mouth feed on the sugar, multiply and produce acid as a waste product. This acid attacks and weakens the outer tooth layer called enamel, once weakened the tooth decay process starts.
Why should you be concerned with Baby Bottle Tooth Decay?
This is a common question I am asked. They’re just baby teeth, they are going to lose them anyway, so why do I need to worry about them? It is true, your child will lose their baby teeth, but infant cavities can be a serious problem. Your child needs their teeth to chew, swallow, speak, and smile. Baby teeth also hold the space for permanent teeth. If your child loses a baby tooth too early, the neighboring teeth are more likely to tilt or drift into the empty space and create limited space for the permanent tooth to erupt. If left untreated, the permanent tooth can be blocked from coming into the property causing crowding and the need for braces, poor eating habits, or speech problems.
The first signs of Baby Bottle Tooth Decay are white spots on the front teeth. If the white spots with plaque and sugar on the teeth will quickly progress into tooth decay. Teeth that have decay may appear brown or black. Bottle mouth decay mostly affects the upper front teeth, but other teeth can develop cavities as well.
Milk that lingers on your teeth can cause damage without brushing your teeth after drinking milk (especially at night before bed), the sugar in milk stays stuck on teeth. Not disrupting the plaque is what leads to cavities and decay. It’s also good to rinse your mouth with water after having milk during the day to neutralize the pH in the mouth.
Babies who fall asleep while drinking from a bottle can breathe liquid into their lungs and choke, it can also cause aspiration pneumonia.
This is why you do not want to put a baby to be with a bottle to soothe them.
You can feed them before bed, just don’t give them a bottle and leave them for the night, it becomes a hard habit to break later.
Consider moving away from feeding your baby to sleep
If your baby is falling asleep while drinking from the bottle or breast, they aren’t actually self-soothing or learning to self-soothe.
Moving the bedtime feeding session to a slightly earlier part of the bedtime routine can encourage your little one to learn to self-soothe while still ensuring they get enough food and you can establish a routine of wiping the gums or brushing his/ her teeth before bed.
Although this is a fairly simple change to most sleep routines, it can lead to some upset or crying as your child is forced to find other ways to soothe themselves asleep. If you start this early it will be easier.
In the beginning, you may need to stand next to the crib offering verbal assurances — or even the occasional back rub — as your child learns to self-soothe without the aid of liquids and body contact. This is what I did. I just ended up changing the soothing method and rubbed my daughter back until she was 12. Learn from my mistakes. Unless you want your child to need you at bedtime.
If you want your child to be able to self-soothe without you present, it’s essential you establish a routine in a safe location.
When your little one is able to self-soothe themselves to sleep, it’s a big deal. Every baby is different and no one solution works for everyone, these are some tips to help make the process as quick and easy as possible.
For more tips on self-soothing visit. https://www.healthline.com/health/baby/self-soothing-baby#know-when-to-start
Some ways to prevent Baby Bottle Tooth Decay:
- Place only formula, milk, or breast milk in bottles.
- Don’t let your child walk around with a bottle of juice or milk.
- Avoid giving babies bottles with sugar water, juice, or soft drinks.
- Don’t put your child to sleep with a bottle of juice or milk. The sugar in the liquid stays on your baby’s teeth for hours.
- Wipe the baby’s gums with a clean gauze pad or washcloth after each feeding.
- Limit the amount of juice you give your child. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than 6 ounces per day for young children. Babies under 6 months should not drink juice at all.
- If your child uses a pacifier, always use a clean one, don’t dip it in sugar or honey.
- Limit sharing your saliva with your baby by not sharing spoons, forks, drinks, or licking pacifiers.
- Encourage healthy eating habits, and limit sweets and crackers.
Begin brushing your child’s teeth as soon as they grow in. Brush gently with a child-size toothbrush and a small amount of toothpaste until the age of 3. My daughter did not like toothpaste. We just wet the brush with water til she was 6.
It is easier to teach good habits from the start and It’s never too late to break bad habits. If your child currently drinks sweetened liquids from the bottle or sleeps with a bottle, you can work to break the habit as soon as possible. Begin by gradually diluting the bottle with water over 2 to 3 weeks until you give only water.
The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests saying bye-bye to the bottle before your baby is 18 months old. The researchers suggest that “prolonged bottle use” — drinking from the bottle beyond 12 to 14 months — adds excess calories to a child’s diet, increasing the risk of weight gain.
Tooth decay or dental caries is the single most common chronic childhood disease worldwide, 5 times more common than asthma, 7 times more common than hay fever, 4 times more common than childhood obesity, and 20 times more common than juvenile diabetes. According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, it is today an international public hazard in both developing and developed nations. It is an infectious disease that can begin as early as the teeth erupt, usually around 6 months, and can progress rapidly causing immense pain and discomfort to the child.
Teeth usually follow a pattern of development. Bottle mouth decay affects maxillary incisors first,(top teeth) and then the mandibular molars( bottom back teeth, because of the way the tongue protects the mandibular incisors ( lower front teeth )are oftentimes spared. The progression of this disease depends on which teeth erupt and dietary habits.
The actual cause of cavities is the microbe Streptococcus mutans that combined with sugary food or fermentable carbohydrates produce lactic acid which erodes the tooth enamel causing demineralization. If Left Untreated, the repercussions on the child’s health and quality of life, and can create serious social and economic consequences.
A child with dental caries that suffers from severe pain can hinder eating or speaking. As a result, there may be a history of delayed milestones due to malnutrition and inability to concentrate on studies, poor memory, stunted growth, difficulties in speech and articulation, and lowered self-esteem.
Typically white or brown spots on the demineralized enamel are seen on the upper front teeth. In later stages, it leaves a large yellow-brown cavity or stumps as teeth. In an older child with fully erupted primary dentition, extensive dental destruction may be noticeable. I did not have a bottle mouth. I have an iron deficiency that stained my two front teeth. As a result, I was teased and bullied which affected the way I felt about myself for many years growing up. I do not have many pictures of me showing my teeth until I got braces. I do not want another child to feel the way I did about their teeth growing up. I did not realize just how much it affected my self-esteem until I was older. I think this is subconsciously why I entered the dental field as a career.
Knowledge is power and there is so much about our mouths that affects our body that is not mainstream or discussed at our dental appointments. This is why I take the time to share the knowledge I have to help others.
Here are some products you can use to help stop Bottle Rot.
While you can use a manual toothbrush an electric toothbrush is better. You get 300 rotations with a manual toothbrush you get 33.000 with an electric. Making an electric brush 10 x more effective than a manual. I am a BURST ambassador and it is the brush my whole family uses. It is one of the most powerful on the market, it reduces bleeding up to 3x more after 15 days of brushing. It has a lifetime warranty with the subscription that sends the replacement heads to you every three months so you know it is time to replace the head. A worn-out toothbrush head is less effective at removing plaque and bacteria.
It also has a two-minute timer that notifies you every 30 seconds to switch brushing quadrants, which helps prevent zombie brushing!
It comes in a tube you can get from your dentist. This is what I use. Application of CPP or casein phosphopeptide stabilizes the calcium and phosphate of the enamel and preserves or remineralizes the teeth. The presence of CPP, calcium, and phosphate can stop the cavity from forming. We had water and since my daughter didn’t like toothpaste I used a Q-tip to apply MI paste to her teeth until she was 7 and would use toothpaste with fluoride to brush her teeth to improve remineralization of enamel.
You can use a simple test to see if your child’s mouth is acidic by spitting on a ph strip if you can keep your mouth at a neutral pH of 7.0 or above you greatly reduce the risk of getting cavities. See our products page for more recommended products for you and your child. I also have a pH course www.themagicofph.com
Creating good oral health habits early is essential for a lifetime of good dental health.
Visiting a dentist as soon as your child turns one or gets a few teeth twice a year will ensure you catch any problems early, will increase your chances of preventing cavities and will set your child up for a lifetime of good oral health.