Dental care article

Baby bottle syndrome

Baby bottle syndrome is defined as tooth decay that results from permitting an infant and children to go to sleep while sucking intermittently from a bottle of formula, whole milk, fruit juice, tea with sugar or water containing sugar.

The bacteria in the mouth feed on the sugar contents contained in the liquids which will then release acids that in turn attack the teeth causing decay of the teeth.

Giving an infant sugary drinks especially at nap time or night time is particularly harmful because the flow of saliva decreases during sleep therefore creating a playground for organisms. The upper front teeth are usually the first to be affected as they are the first teeth that erupt in the mouth and are there longest, although other teeth in the mouth may also be affected.

Oral hygiene of an infant

  • Wipe the baby’s gums and tongue with a clean wash cloth after feeding
  • Begin brushing child’s teeth without toothpaste when his/her first tooth comes out. If you decide to use toothpaste use a fluoride free toothpaste
  • Clean and massage gums in areas without teeth
  • Make sure child brushes teeth twice a day with fluoridated toothpaste once all primary/baby teeth are erupted which will lessen the cavities on the child’s teeth
  • Another source of fluoride which is cheaper and easily accessible is municipal water which will also make the child’s teeth strong. NB: Find out from your local municipality of the fluoride concentration in the water and consult with your dentist if that is little or too much for your child and for further advice.
  • Schedule regular dentist visits twice a year for the child. Dentists also offer special sealant coatings which can help prevent tooth decay.

Other techniques to prevent baby bottle syndrome

  • DON’T allow the child to fall asleep with bottle filled with juice, juice, tea with sugar or water with sugar. Diluting the juice with water is not recommended. NB: soft drinks are not recommended for children as they have no nutritional value.
  • Never give your child a pacifier dipped in anything sweet.
  • Reduce the sugar in your child’s diet especially between meals.

NB: It’s never too late to break a habit. If your child drinks sweetened liquids, break the habit now and cut the risk of baby bottle syndrome. Remember, healthy baby teeth will lead to healthy permanent teeth.


With thanks to Oral-B – Preventing Gum Diseases

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