NURSING BOTTLE CARIES is a dental problem that develops in infants, especially infants that are put to bed with a bottle containing a sweet liquid.
Baby bottle tooth decay is also called nursing-bottle caries and bottle-mouth syndrome.
Bottles containing liquids such as milk, formula, fruit juices, sweetened drink mixes, and sugar water continuously bathe an infant's mouth with sugar.
The bacteria in the mouth use this sugar to produce acid that destroys the child's teeth. The upper front teeth are typically the ones most severely damaged; the lower front teeth are protected to some degree by the tongue.
Pacifiers dipped in sugar, honey, corn syrup, or other sweetened liquids also contribute to baby bottle tooth decay.
The first signs of damage are chalky white spots or lines across the teeth. As decay progresses, the damage to the child's teeth becomes more obvious.
Damage caused by baby bottle tooth decay is often not diagnosed until the child has a severe problem, because many parents do not schedule regular dental exams for their small children.
It is recommended that a child's first trip to the dentist be before one year of age and that trips to the dentist occur regularly every six months after that.
In cases of baby bottle tooth decay, the dentist must assess the extent of the damage before deciding on the treatment method. If the problem is caught early, the teeth involved can be treated with fluoride, followed by changes in the infant's feeding habits and better oral hygiene . Primary teeth with obvious decay in the enamel that has not yet progressed to the pulp need to be protected with stainless steel crowns. Fillings are not usually an option in small children because of the small size of their teeth and the concern of recurrent decay. When the decay has advanced to the pulp, pulling the tooth is often the treatment of choice.