Baby Bottle Tooth Syndrome (Bottlemouth Syndrome or Nursing Caries) is tooth decay caused by a child going to bed with a bottle filled with milk, juice, or anything except water. The syndrome usually affects children between ages one and two. Infants who fall asleep while breastfeeding are also at risk.

According to Colgate, “when a child falls asleep with a bottle full of milk or juice, some of the liquid from the bottle pools behind the sleeping child’s front teeth.” Since the milk or juice is just sitting in the mouth, bacteria that causes cavities has time and sugar to erode the tooth enamel.

The most common symptoms of Nursing Caries are white spots on the teeth and early development of cavities (brown areas on the tooth that lead to tooth destruction).

How can you prevent nursing caries?

  • Don’t allow your child to go to bed with a bottle filled with anything but water
  • Wean your child from the bottle in a timely matter
  • Begin good early mouth care of the gums and teeth
  • Give fluoride supplementation, as recommended by your child’s physician
  • Begin dental visits for your child at age 1

Pediatricians and pediatric dentists recommend that a baby be weaned off the bottle around 12 months and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that a baby be completely weaned from the bottle by 15 months, at the latest. During this time, parents should  encourage their baby to start drinking from a sippy cup or open training cup.