Bottle caries (infants and children)

Bottle caries is also known as early childhood caries, baby bottle tooth decay or bottle rot. Bottle caries is the syndrome in which the teeth of infants and young children get affected by severe decay. It is basically a bacterial infection which is quite common these days.


One of the primary factors which cause bottle caries is the consumption of liquids containing fermentable carbohydrates. These liquids can be juices, milk, soda, infant formula, etc. These liquids contain sugar and the frequent contact of the sugar with the infant’s teeth can cause bottle caries. Other factors include applying poor feeding practices. this means that proper preventative measures are not taken during feeding. Feeding with a bottle at night frequently and the use of a no-spill training cup can lead to early childhood caries as well.

Importantly, infants and children suffer from bottle and early childhood caries when their teeth are exposed to sweetened liquids regularly. Breast milk and water do not, however, cause dental caries. But milk formula and fruit juices can. The bacteria in the mouth of the children consume the sugar in these items to produce a particular type of acid. This acid starts damaging the tooth enamel. If enamel is not remineralized by the remineralization process sufficiently, bottle caries is the result.


Just like permanent teeth, the deciduous teeth are vulnerable to dental caries. Upon the eruption of the first deciduous teeth, care should be taken to prevent dental caries. In extreme cases, tooth extraction or dental restoration might be required. However, dental caries can be prevented by taking proper care of the teeth of the infant.

In order to prevent bottle caries and early childhood caries, the teeth and gums of the children should be cleaned properly and punctually after every feeding and meal. This is necessary after the eruption of the first tooth. The use and consumption of fluoridated water are also very effective in preventing early childhood caries.