Dental & Oral Health

How to Prevent Nursing Bottle Caries?

Written by
Dr. Nivedita Dalmia
and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.

Published on Feb 22, 2015 and last reviewed on Feb 03, 2020   -  2 min read



Do you let your baby sleep with a milk bottle in the mouth? This practice can result in a condition called nursing bottle caries. Read about the symptoms, causes, and ways to prevent this condition.

How to Prevent Nursing Bottle Caries?

Nursing bottle caries is a type of tooth decay also known as early childhood caries/nursing bottle syndrome/rampant caries.

In which Age Group, is Nursing Bottle Caries Usually Seen?

Nursing bottle caries is usually seen in toddlers and infants.

Commonly Affected Teeth:

  • Upper deciduous dentition (milk teeth) are affected.
  • Affected tooth parts involve enamel, dentin and pulp.

Why does Nursing Bottle Caries Affect Only the Upper Milk Teeth and Not the Lower Milk Teeth?

The lower milk teeth are not affected by nursing bottle caries because:

  • The tongue protects the lower teeth by its cleansing action on the lingual surface (surface of teeth facing the tongue) of the lower teeth.
  • Constant flow of saliva from the submandibular salivary gland cleanses the lower teeth.

Causes of Nursing Bottle Caries

  • Breast feeding at night to make the children to sleep.
  • Bottle feeding of milk and juices.
  • Use of pacifiers which are coated with honey or any other artificial sweeteners to stop the baby from crying.
  • Habit of keeping milk/sugary content in the child's mouth for a prolonged time.


  • If the caries is diagnosed at an early stage, then flouride application on the teeth will prevent worsening of caries.
  • If the caries involves only enamel (outermost layer of the tooth), then restoration (tooth filling) can be done.
  • If the caries involves enamel and dentin (the inner layer of tooth next to enamel) then restoration (tooth filling) can be done.
  • If the caries involves enamel, dentin and pulp (the innermost layer of the tooth), depending upon the extent of the caries in the pulp, pulpotomy (partial removal of the pulp) or pulpectomy (complete removal of the pulp chamber) can be done.

What are the Measures to be Taken to Prevent Nursing Bottle Caries?

Educating the parents regarding the effects of early childhood caries and thereby preventing the tooth decay is important. The following steps are helpful in preventing nursing bottle caries:

  • Avoid feeding milk while the child is asleep.
  • Clean the child's mouth after feeding milk, juices, food etc.
  • After giving milk to child, make the child drink water.
  • Decrease the consumption of sugar of the child especially in between meals.
  • Clean the baby's gums atleast once in a day using a wet gauze.
  • After the eruption of child's teeth, brush them gently with a toothbrush with a small head and soft bristles.
  • Avoid dipping pacifiers into honey or any other sweeting agents.

Consult pedodontist online for early diagnosis of nursing bottle caries in your child

Read this article to prevent future dental problems in your child --->

Last reviewed at:
03 Feb 2020  -  2 min read




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