Tooth decay in infants and toddlers is referred to as baby bottle tooth decay or nursing bottle caries.Though the name suggests it is caused exclusively by bottle feeding, it can occur in breast infants too if the correct technique of feeding is not followed. This type of decay typically affects upper front teeth though other teeth may be affected too.
Childhood Teeth Decay Stages
What causes BABY BOTTLE TOOTH DECAY?
The cause of this characteristic pattern of decay are sweetened liquids or those with natural sugars (like milk, formula, and fruit juice) being in prolonged contact with an infant’s teeth for a long time. Bacteria in the mouth grow rapidly on this sugar and make acids that attack the teeth and destroy it completely over time.
One common risk factor is the frequent, prolonged exposure of the baby’s teeth to drinks that contain sugar. Tooth decay can occur when the baby is put to bed with a bottle or when a bottle is used as a pacifier for a fussy baby.
If baby bottle tooth decay is left untreated, pain and infection can occur which may result in abscess formation and even need hospitalization to treat the infection. If teeth are taken out early without precautions to maintain their space,the child may develop poor eating habits, speech problems, crooked teeth, and damaged adult teeth.