By Last Updated: November 3, 2023

Even though baby teeth are temporary, they play a role in the growth and development of your child’s adult teeth and smile. Baby teeth preserve the space for incoming adult teeth. This prevents tooth crowding or spacing so your child can have a beautiful and healthy smile for decades to come.

Aside from that, adult teeth do not come in until your child turns 6. So, in those 6 years, the baby teeth will be front and center in the smile. Having cavity-free baby teeth and a good-looking smile helps boost your child’s confidence as they get more social.

However, one of the biggest problems when it comes to oral health and baby teeth is early decay. And the main culprit is prolonged baby bottle use. If you are a parent, this read can help you learn more about baby teeth and baby bottle tooth decay.

Do Baby Bottles Cause Tooth Decay?

The short answer is yes! Baby bottles do cause tooth decay. Baby bottles are often filled with sweetened fluids such as milk formula, fruit juices, or syrups with sugar. When this is left too long in the mouth, sugar sits and soaks the teeth for a long time. These sugars invite cavity-causing bacteria in the mouth to eat away and rot the teeth. This increases the risk of tooth decay.

About Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

Baby bottle tooth decay is a common problem for many parents. Babies and children get quite dependent on their baby bottles and the sugar in their fluids. Babies may get quite fussy without their baby bottles filled with their milk formula. And children may burst into tantrums without a sip of their favourite sugary fruit juice.

Symptoms of Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

Baby bottle tooth decay can affect all teeth at any age. But, it has a higher chance of occurring on the upper and lower front teeth. Some common symptoms you should watch out for are:

  • White spots on the tooth surface
  • Cavities or holes in the tooth
  • Persistent crying, likely due to severe toothache
  • Swollen gums
  • Fever due to gum or tooth infection

How to Prevent Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

The good news is that baby bottle tooth decay is highly preventable. Here are some tips to help you out:

Avoid sleeping with a milk bottle

The longer your child spends with milk in the mouth, the higher the chances of decay. Do not put them to sleep with a milk bottle as this soaks the teeth in sugar. Remove the bottle before they fall asleep. Also, make sure to clean their mouth and if possible, have them brush their teeth, to remove sugar residues that are still stuck on the teeth.

Consider early weaning

Weaning is not entirely advisable until after 6 months as it may upset your baby’s tummy. But if recommended by your pediatrician or if your child can already slowly get off weaning, consider weaning them off. This transition can start with regulating the time your child is on bottle feeding or you can begin with the use of sippy cups.

Switch to water

If bottle feeding cannot be helped, try filling the bottle with water instead of juices. You can put some honey if your child gets picky with it.  Sugar is the main food source of bacteria that causes tooth decay. With a lower sugar diet, bacteria will not thrive and cause harm to the teeth.

Teach them proper oral hygiene

Start them young when it comes to good hygiene care. Teach them how to properly brush their teeth. Aside from prevention form dental diseases such as cavities, it serves as the foundation for oral health into adulthood.

Fluoride is your best friend

During dental visits for routine cleaning, your dentist may recommend fluoride treatment. Fluoride improves the tooth’s resistance to decay. Fluoride-rich toothpaste can also do the work to prevent cavities.

Begin dental visits at age 1

Dentists recommend that the first dental visit should be at the age of 1 when your child’s first baby tooth has come in. It does not necessarily mean that dental procedures will be performed. Instead, it sets the tone to your child that visiting the dentist is a fun and positive experience. It prevents dental fear that may compromise your child’s future smile.

Can Sippy Cups Hurt My Child’s Teeth?

Sippy cups do not cause harm to the child’s teeth. In fact, another foolproof way to prevent baby bottle tooth decay is to switch to sippy cups. You can do this at the age of one or even earlier! If your baby can already sip on their own, consider investing in a plastic spill-proof sippy cup instead.

Sippy cups do not soak the teeth in the fluids as much. Because of the spout, your child is likely to swallow the drink immediately. This decreases the risk of tooth decay.

When To See a Dentist

Even if there are no dental concerns yet, Midpark Dental encourages you to have your child visit the dentist when they turn 1. Prevention is always the key when it comes to your child’s oral health. And getting them acquainted with the dentist, letting them experience a positive dental visit, and teaching them (and you, as a parent) on proper oral hygiene, are some of the ways we can maintain and improve your child’s healthy smile.

If you spot any of the listed symptoms of baby bottle tooth decay, schedule a visit with your dentist. The sooner the problem is caught, the better the treatment we can provide. Early treatment prevents serious complications such as widespread decay and infection. This also avoids the need for invasive treatments that may cause dental fear.


A lifetime of good oral health begins with healthy baby teeth. So, do not take those little temporary teeth for granted as they can greatly impact your child’s future smile!

Get started with early oral health care and book your appointment today with Midpark Dental.