Night, Night! Dr. Hull's Common Sense Sleep Solutions©
Help for sleepless parents
Unlimited personal help
nursing bottle caries
Nursing bottle caries are tooth decay of the deciduous ("baby") front teeth caused by parents allowing a toddler to suck on a bottle or sippie cup of milk or juice frequently during the day - the child typically walks around the house with the bottle or sippie cup in her hand. Allowing the child to have the bottle or cup in the bed for naps or nighttime sleep is also very common, with the same disastrous effects on the soft enamel of the first teeth. Nursing caries sometimes is produced in breastfed babies and toddlers who are allowed to nurse very frequently, but this is very unusual in my experience.
The decay is caused by erosion of the soft teeth by acid which is produced by mouth bacteria feeding on the constant wash of sugary milk, juice, or soda1. Once the harder outer enamel is breeched, the decay spreads rapidly and the teeth may simply rot off at the gumline.
Dental caries (cavities) are actually infections of the teeth with mouth bacteria. If the "rotten" teeth are not treated, the infection will likely spread to the permanent teeth when they erupt. Therefore, these teeth generally need to be repaired, usually by capping the decayed teeth under anesthesia.
1. Soda, being acidic to begin with due to the carbonation, is doubly bad in this situation.