You probably know people experience tooth decay as they age. But did you know that tooth decay can be a problem for toddlers too? We assume that because baby teeth are new, they are not at risk of decay. Even if there are decay problems, the teeth will eventually fall out, so no big deal, right? Wrong. This condition among young children, known as Baby Bottle Tooth Decay, or “bottle mouth,” sets the stage for permanent teeth and future overall health.

Bottle mouth typically affects the upper front teeth, but can affect other teeth as well. The most common cause of tooth decay in infants and toddlers is falling asleep with a bottle of milk or juice, thus the name bottle mouth. Sugars from the milk or juice gather in the baby’s mouth, and become a cesspool for acid to attack the teeth. The best way to avoid this is to wean the baby off the bottle during bedtime, or only put water in a bottle that goes to bed with the baby.

Starting early with tooth care and dental health will help prevent more serious problems later on. Using a soft toothbrush and teaching your baby or toddler how to brush their teeth early is a great way to get them into good habits early. For more tips on how to prevent tooth decay for your little one, see this: