Dentist Questions Bottle feeding

Does bottle feed impact the teeth in a baby?

My baby is 3 months old, and right now, I feed her through a bottle. But I recently read an article about how bottle feeds may impact her teeth in the future. Is this really true?

9 Answers

As long as you are brushing her teeth (once she gets them in) after her last nightly bottle, then it should not affect her teeth. No worries, mama!
Bottle feeding in and of itself isn't the problem. But the practices surrounding the use of bottles for feeding could be an issue. For instance, never leave the baby alone, lying on its back, and give a full bottle to be consumed. The liquid could back up into the ear canals and cause an infection, milk remaining in the mouth if the baby should fall asleep can cause cavities in all the teeth. The baby should always be in a sitting position when drinking from a bottle with an adult wiping out the mouth with a clean, new wet gauze to refresh the gums/tongue and brush the teeth with water at least.
Bottle feeding can damage the teeth if the baby eats too frequently after teeth have erupted because not only does the baby eat the food but so do all the germs in the mouth. If you feed the baby formula or milk four times daily and plain water the other times, the baby should be okay.
We do not recommend babies to sleep with the bottle as milk has sugar in it and may cause a condition called baby bottle syndrome.
Breast feeding is best for development of the jaws and tongue placement, but there are specific bottles that have nipples that can create a similar effect. The key is the tongue needs to be placed in the roof of the mouth when swallowing to expand the upper jaw which promotes better breathing and swallowing habits as they grow and start eating solid foods. My advice would be to visit with a pediatric dentist or orthodontist to discuss the best options. Many pediatricians do not understand these concepts as well as those in the dental community. The decisions you make now will affect the growth and development of your child so you are wise to seek the advice of those professionals. Lastly, in regards to bottles, do not put your child to bed with a bottle that has anything other than water. Milk, juice, and other liquids will cause tooth decay very rapidly and significantly as your child gets teeth.  

Eric Buck, DDS
Yes, but if you make sure you either wipe or brush the teeth with water only once they start eruption. You will be fine.
Most pediatric dentists do not protest bottle-feeding, however, thumb sucking is a much more causative factor in malocclusions, which are treated by the orthodontist. The problem with bottle-feeding is the amount of sugar from products ingested in milk that is allowed to accumulate on the teeth without brushing, providing teeth have erupted.
Nothing has been found to be as effective as the mother's breast for proper dental arch development in an infant. There are many bottles with various nipple shapes, but nothing compares to the mother's nipple. The infant will develop proper sucking and swallowing patterns through breast feeding that are not available through bottle feeding. Also, mother's milk is the best source for nutrition and immune support for the infant. Also, once teeth erupt in the infant, it is very important not to give the infant a bottle with milk at bedtime in order to prevent bottle mouth caries. The sugars in milk will cause decay as the bacteria in the mouth feed on the sugars in the milk, giving off acids that promote tooth decay. Only use water at bedtime in the bottle! 

Daniel A. Flores, DDS, MS
Yes, it’s true, it is called baby bottle syndrome where the sugar in the milk decays the upper anterior teeth. The best way to treat this is to take the bottle away before bed and lightly clean the teeth with a washcloth.