Nursing bottle caries

Breast milk, infant formula, cow’s milk and fruit juices all contain sugar.

Babies can have caries (cavities) because they:

  • Go to bed with a bottle of milk, infant formula or juice.
  • Fall asleep on their mother’s breasts with their mouth still full of milk.

This type of decay can manifest until the age of 4. Once your child has teeth, check them every month. Beware of dull white spots or lines that may form on the teeth at the edge of the gums. Also be aware of dark colored teeth. If any of these signs appear, see your dentist immediately. Nursing bottle caries should be treated quickly. Otherwise your child may have pain and develop an infection. If you give your child a bottle of milk, infant formula or juice at bedtime, stopping will NOT be easy.

Here's how to proceed:

  • Fill the bottle with water only.
  • If your child refuses, give him a clean pacifier, soft toy or blanket.
  • If your child cries, do not give up.
  • Console him/her and try again.

If nothing works, try diluting your baby’s milk with water for a period of 1 or 2 weeks, until there is only water left. If your child falls asleep while feeding, try to remove him from the breast when he is still awake.