How can I prevent baby bottle decay (Early Childhood Caries)?

One form of serious tooth decay found in infants and toddlers is called “baby bottle tooth decay” or Early Childhood Caries. This is caused by frequent exposure to liquids that contain sugar including milk, breast milk, formula, fruit juice and other sweetened drinks. If a young child is put to bed for a nap or at nighttime with any drink other than water, it can cause rapid and devastating tooth decay. The sweetened, sugary liquids can pool around the child’s teeth, giving the bacteria in plaque the sugar they need to make acid that ultimately causes tooth decay. When feeding your baby at night, wipe his or her gums and teeth with a damp cloth, tooth wipe or toothbrush afterwards. For toddlers and older children using Sippy cups during the day, offer only water between meals.