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Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

Posted Nov 07 2010 12:32pm
Dear Dr. Ellie,

I just found your site and learned about Xylitol. Could you give me a recommendation for my daughter who is 3.5. At her dentist appointment yesterday I was told she has 5 cavities and needs two crowns (her two front teeth) due to bottle decay. I am distraught. My daughter was breastfed for 2.5 years and never used a bottle or sippy cup, doesn't get juice or candy, although she did nurse at night. Did extended breastfeeding cause the tooth decay? Please help, her doctor wants to put her under general anesthesia to cap the front teeth and I would like an alternative if there is one.

Thank you in advance for your reply.


Hi T,

I cannot get between your doctor and his suggestion to you. BUT as a mother I would fight hard to delay treatment if possible.

The truth is that there is a great deal of risk with sedation for any child. If you could delay treatment - perhaps in a year or so, she would be able to cooperate enough to have any needed treatment without anesthesia?

Just a suggestion.

I come from a philosophy that far too much treatment is done on young kids that could wait. I prefer to wait and try to avoid the need for sedation. This would be understandable if the child is in pain or if the tooth is going to create an infection in the gum.

You can control this infection in your child's mouth. You can stop the disease and even reverse some of the issues that are going on.

Cavities are caused by A BACTERIAL DISEASE and it is spread by contact with others that have this disease. This could come from you, your family , grandparents, day care workers etc. The bacteria are like the bacteria of Strep sore throat - except most people have them in their mouths all the time.

Daily use of xylitol can control this infection. Put a teaspoon of granular xylitol in a cup or bottle of water and let her sip this in the morning and again at night. Perhaps a little quarter teaspoon xylitol before any nap time - and after meals.

In addition I would brush her teeth morning and night with a clean toothbrush moistened with a drop of ACT fluoride rinse ( the kids bubblegum or the mint work well).

I don't know how deep the cavities are - but I would start this immediately. You need to be very disciplined about adequate xylitol each day - at least five exposures every day.

You and the rest of the people in her life need to get serious about oral health also. Look on the website and see the routine that I recommend.

Again - this is an infectious disease and you must all join in this regimen! You may want to delay her next appointment - but I cannot tell you what to do here - it will have to be your choice.

You could ask your dentist if he is OK with giving you a chance to REMINERALIZE these teeth and control the disease BEFORE she has the fillings done.

That is a very reasonable request to make - and it will possibly give you 2-3 months to try and reverse some of these cavities. It would be good to ascertain why these teeth decayed like this. Does she breathe through her mouth for some reason - allergies, or the shape of her mouth. Start tomorrow - work hard - and you may find the dentist will support you in this.

I would like to see the dentist consider a fluoride varnish on the damaged teeth. I would like to see you wait some months - wait and see if her cooperation levels allow treatment as she gets a little older.

I hope you can pull this off without sedation!

Best Wishes,


Ellie Phillips DDS
Solutions for Oral Health!
author, Kiss Your Dentist Goodbye
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