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Nursing Bottle Caries

  • Overview

    Nursing caries, or tooth decay, can be caused when your child sleeps with a bottle. This condition is also called baby bottle tooth decay. It is caused when a child goes to bed with a bottle filled with milk or juice — anything except water.

    Why baby bottles need to used with caution

    Man Wai Ng, MD, dentist-in chief, at Boston Children's Hospital, says: "Bottles and sippy cups containing juice or any fermentable carbohydrate allow frequent or prolonged consumption, which increases tooth decay risk. Sleeping with a bottle containing anything other than water should be discouraged."

    Children's Hospital Boston
    300 Longwood Avenue
    Boston MA 02115

     617-355-7701
     fax: 617-730-0505

  • In-Depth

    Is my infant at risk?

    Nursing bottle caries usually affects children between the ages of 1 and 2. If your infant falls asleep while breastfeeding, he is also at risk.

    What are the symptoms of nursing caries?

    The following are the most common symptoms of nursing caries. However, each child may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

    • white spots on the teeth
    • early development of cavities (brown areas on the tooth that lead to tooth destruction)

    How can I prevent nursing caries?

    The following are suggestions to help prevent your child from developing 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 manner.
    • 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.
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