What is bottle rot?

The use of bottles and pacifiers (dummies) for infants has long been a controversial topic. It is believed that the teats of these bottles or dummies will influence everything from the shape of the jawline to the extent of the overbite. One such condition caused by the excessive use of baby bottles and dummies specifically is bottle rot.

Now, to be fair, it isn’t in fact a reaction to the bottle or dummy, but when the child consumes liquids that are high in sugar, the bottle or the dummy can aggravate the decay that the sugar would naturally cause. Because teats are left in the mouth for an unnatural length of time after drinking, especially during sleep time, the front of the teeth are affected because the flow of saliva slows down and doesn’t effectively rinse the sugar from the mouth. The sugar from the milk, or juice or other fluids is static and starts to erode the teeth. This, if left uncleaned, can result in bottle rot, a painful section of rotten, decayed teeth.

Bacteria in the mouth thrive on this sugar and form acids that attack the teeth, WebMD explains.

If baby bottle tooth decay is left untreated, pain and infection can result. Severely decayed teeth may need to be removed.

 How to prevent bottle rot

The best way to prevent bottle rot is to limit the time your child has a teat in his/her mouth. You can do this by restricting bottle or teat time to feeds. Older children who enjoy walking around and sucking on their bottles can be given a substitute toy to hold instead. For babies, try to eliminate the use of a dummy. Crying for a dummy is usually an indication that another need has to be met.

Clean your baby’s mouth regularly. If your child is too young for a toothbrush, some water and cotton wool or gauze over your clean index finger should work. Give your child plenty of water to drink. Water rinses the mouth and neutralises sugar.

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