What is nursing bottle decay? Is nursing bottle decay preventable?

Nursing bottle decay is a general term for a serious condition in very young children. This type of decay is usually caused by inappropriate feeding that led to frequent or prolonged exposure of young baby teeth to milk, formula, or other sweetened fluids. Nursing bottle decay usually first shows on the top front teeth. The affected spots look chalky-white, yellow, or brown-colored. The decay can progress and spread quickly, and can involve all the teeth in a short period of time.

Nursing bottle decay is completely preventable. Children should be weaned from bottle as soon as they turn age one. Sippy-cups should not be used constantly like a bottle. The most harmful feeding practice is putting the child to bed with a bottle, or nursing the child to sleep. Parents who breast-feed their babies should avoid nursing the baby to sleep once the first tooth begins to erupt. The mouth lacks protection when the child is asleep because saliva is reduced. If the child has to go to sleep with a bottle, put water only or gradually dilute the fluid in the bottle.

Brushing for your child should begin as early as the first tooth appears. In fact starting at birth, you can clean the baby’s gum with a cloth and water. Remember that most small children do not have the dexterity to brush their teeth effectively.

American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry advice “First visit by first birthday”. Your child should visit a pediatric dentist when the first tooth comes in, and begin a thorough prevention program. Early examination and preventive care will protect your child’s smile now and in the future.