Teeth - Bottle Rot Syndrome-My experience (UPDATED 08/18/01)

Aug 28, 2000 (Updated Aug 18, 2001)

The Bottom Line You have to be comfortable as to what will be done as your child will sense it in you. I learned that!

Bottle Rot Syndrome is a condition that effects some children who continue to take a bottle even after their teeth start to come in. I am one of those parents that have learned the hard way.

My Daughter never took a pacifier very long, she doesn't use a "blankie", she never sucked her thumb, but she would not go to sleep without a bottle - even up to age 2. Now some of you are already shaking your head at me, but we started off with Colic, went to Croup, then tons of colds, and she would never eat. Even now!!! I thought that allowing her to pacify herself with her nightly milk bottle. I wasn't doing too bad (I naively thought) with developing a habit. I knew the bottles would eventually end, unlike thumb sucking. I learned the hard way that thumb sucking doesn't eat the enamel off of your teeth!!! I feel so stupid as I look back now!

When I watched her sleeping, humming, and nestling with her hands, I didn't think I was doing anything wrong. Every night she slept with the bottle, the damage was progressing unknown - and I could have stopped it!!!


As we sat in the waiting room for Daughter's two year visit with her Pediatrician, she ate raisins. When the Doctor was examining her teeth, she told me to give her more water, and asked if that molar on the bottom had a cavity in it. I laughed, and said no! I said it was a raisin skin. I was wrong.

About three months later, I started to notice her front teeth, along the gum line, were beginning to be discolored. I thought it was the carrot-based juice she was drinking, and brushed her teeth, concentrating on that area. I should have seen the signs then, but for some reason I didn't.

The next six months, the discoloration of her teeth began to get worse, and I knew it was time to take her to the Dentist. She had fallen and chipped a front tooth that morning I was going to take her, so her appointment was moved up a few hours earlier. Her tooth, I found out that day, was weak from Bottle Rot Syndrome. I was shocked to hear that she had Stage 2 of Bottle Rot Syndrome.

Bottle Rot is damage caused by milk laying on children's teeth at night. The milk itself becomes an acid-like film that works on breaking down the enamel on the teeth it is stationed on.

The discoloration that I had noticed six months before was the beginning of Stage 2. Stage 1 can go undetected because it is festering in the tiny pores of the teeth. The damage of stage one is working from the inside of the outer tooth, moving outward. The discoloration that I had begun to notice was the layers of teeth that had already begun to corrode, thus Stage 2. Stage 3 is when the teeth are so rotten, brittle, and corroded that they break off, fall out, and cause terrible toothaches. (Remember that Stage 1 begins unseen!!!)

What can be done to prevent this? Do not give your child of teeth bearing age anything to drink at night except water. Juices can also cause this decay! Whether your child is on a bottle, or a cup, eliminate anything that will cause a film to be on your child's teeth! Brush before bedtime if at all possible, and watch for any signs described above.

What now? Take your child to the Dentist!!!

* My Daughter's teeth are so decayed in the rear of the front teeth (that is not visible to me without the use of a dental mirror) that she is now hot/cold sensitive to the point all food and drinks have to be room temperature. It's hard for her to feed herself anything that requires a "front bite" due to the sensitivity! Side and rear molars have also been affected, so chewing is difficult at times. All foods have to be semi soft, and steak is out of the question!!!

$3,500 worth of dental work to be performed at a hospital. Front white enamel (expensive) caps to protect the damaged front teeth; white fillings on the other damaged visible teeth; silver caps to help keep the save-able molars from further damage; root canals; removal of one molar too far gone; and three to four hours of me in the waiting room this Thursday while my daughter is "operated" on. She will be put under, a tube down her throat, and pain after this whole thing is over until the extracted tooth's area is healed. Lots of Tylenol, hugs, kisses, and apologies!!!

**Caps are being applied to keep the teeth in their current position to help the permanent teeth come into their proper place. There is a chance if teeth are removed too soon that the permanent ones will go "astray", and "out of place".

I have been advised that this surgery has extremely high success rates, and some children have even eaten dinner the same day surgery is done. I'm praying I'm one of those success stories.

I hope I have brought to mind how important it is to get your child to be only drinking water at night! I didn't realize that drinking her bottle of milk was causing hidden damage. Once it's visible, you've got problems!

If we ever have another child, he/she will be pulled off of milk at night when the first tooth "crowns" the gum line!

Contacted by another Epinioneer, and here's my explanation of my options...
Hi, I sympathize with your concern. I had three
dentists' opinions before we made our decision. After
we had this surgery done, we have since learned that
children that are on a lot of medication when they are
young seem to have more advanced tooth decay then
other children. I had my daughter brushing her teeth,
but the enamel was too week. She ended up having 12
caps and one pulled due to what they called bottle rot
syndrome. It doesn't matter if you brush their teeth
or not, the damage is microscopic and the teeth decay
from the inside out on the enamel section I was told.
You can't even see it coming!!! Milk turns to acid in
the mouth and thus instensifies the decay. I heard
this from all three doctors. Now having lots of
medication on top of that accelorates the decay - My
daughter was diagnosed with Colic at three months old,
and before/after that she had everything; thrush,
fifth's disease, RSV - you name it she seemed to catch
it. So then the medication came! Gas drops, and every
type of prescription available it seemed...She did
grow out of it thank goodness!!!!

The first dentist wanted to pull the first four, and
try to repair the rear as well ( my Daughter didn't
like to chew/eat anyway, so how was I going to teach
her if she went without them for 4 years or so?) So I
got a second opinion.
The second dentist wanted to work on her under local
anestesia. That didn't work because there was
extensive damage to a few of her molars as well. My
daughter is a very active child, and she probably
would have been good for one visit, but this dentist
wanted to spread all of the work out over three/four
visits, and that was not an option. Kids are very
smart, and after the first one, I think I'd have a
terrible time getting her to take the gas the second
time - so we went with the third option - Hospital

The third dentist was a specialist in capping
children's teeth. It was about $3,250 worth of dental
work that my insurance was kind enough to cover all of
the hospital fees but we were responsible for the
rest.There was a company that only gives dental loans
through GE Capital Corp (I can give you the number if
you want it), and they charged the fees the day before
the surgery, and you pay it off after then. I'm glad
we went with this option, and I'll tell you why!

This is a little graphic, but I want you to understand
what they did....

The teeth are ground down to about 1/4 their original
size removing all decay. the teeth are treated with a
large amount of fluoride, then caps are cemented over
the now tiny teeth. they leave just enough to hold the
cap on. The reason they did this is so my child's
adult teeth come in the same way they would if there
wasn't a problem. Only one molar was removed because
it had a nerve exposed. The tooth in front of this
molar was capped with a spacer bar. It looks like a
hollow square that holds the tooth behind the empty
spot in place, again to help the adult teeth. I had
them put in white ceramic front teeth, and silver
everywhere else. The white ceramic helped ME deal with
what was done, but it's much more expensive then the
silver. They do need the strength of the silver caps
in the back to chew - and we had 8 put in back there.
My mother's friend's granddaughter had the silver in
the front, and had no problems either. I must tell you
that both of the front caps have fallen off in the
first year of them being on. I took my daughter to an
adult dentist who used adult cement to re-attach them,
and she's been fine ever since. She knows that she has
to brush her teeth very good now to make sure her big
girl teeth don't hurt her like her little girl teeth
did. My Daughter is 4 going on 5 so she's starting to
I am NOT sorry that I chose option three because three
hours after leaving the hospital, she ate right away.
She did get sick once from the after-effects of the IV
anestesia, but that was it. It went back to business
as usual. I gave her tylenol for a few days to help
with the aches she felt in her gums - but you wouldn't
have known that we had been through such an ordeal!!!
I think I cried more during the whole situation then
she did. I can handle anything but my child's pain!

anyhow, if you do decide to get the teeth capped,
there are things your child CAN NOT eat until the
teeth fall out: gummy bears, taffy, anything thick
like that. No biting on lolly pops, no fruit roll ups,
noting. I let her have a fruit roll up and the cap was
actually stuck in it - when the first cap let go. The
second cap went with a stick lollypop that she bit
into. Back to the dentist again. She knows that she
can't have those things, and turns them down when they
are offered to her! I'm very proud of her in that way!

I hope I helped explain some of our choices, and why
we chose what we did.

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Member: Jamie Simpson
Location: Tree Lined Suburbs of Central NJ
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