Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

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

Categories: Uncategorized


  • torycarriere says:

    I am in a similar circumstance. My daughter is 2 1/2 and we are still nursing.I discovered Dr Ellie's program about 6 months ago, and we give her two xylitol mints every night before brushing her teeth with crest. I do the full program every night, but not in the mornings. We don't brush my daughter's teeth in the am (my excuse is we're too busy)…Around a year-and-a-half, she began with white lines on her front 4 top teeth, which soon turned into cavities. It was rapid, but that was when I found Dr. Ellie. We were very good about the xylitol throughout the day, and the cavities remineralized. (also, we had not brushed her teeth up till this point!!! We never thought about it!!) So this was when we started xylitol and brushing.Now, about 9 months later, I have noticed two symmetrical white dots on her bottom teeth (3rd from center), and also in the pits of her bottom molars. I have started putting 3 teaspoons of xylitol with about 6oz water in a sippy cup to have her drink throughout the day. Please give me some advice, Dr. Ellie! I have read your book, and completely agree with what you write. Should we be brushing twice a day? What more can we be doing?Also, we brush and then nurse her. Is this forbidden? I read a study that said that breastmilk is protective to teeth WITHOUT any sugar in the mouth, but if any sugar is there, it is worse than just the sugar alone. Does the brushing and xylitol allow me to nurse her to sleep, or should we nurse then brush?Thank you so much for your philosophy of oral HEALTH. 😀 My dentist does not support xylitol, but he is low-intervention, preferring to remineralize with flouride toothpaste, though he did suggest drilling the brown spots at a later date (why would that be beneficial?), as my daughter is very good at staying still to brush.-Tory Carriereps- I would love to give your book to friends for Christmas!

  • Dr. Ellie says:

    It's important to view cavities as an infection.Imagine a strep sore throat infection – it's similar bacteria – cavity bacteria are sticky ones that stick on teeth and form cavities! Your whole family must do the xylitol in water drink!You are all infecting each other. Use this wonderful natural method to slowly eliminate the cavity bacteria from all your mouths.From your story it sounds as if you wiped out the infection in your child's mouth but then she was re-infected and is now developing cavities again. It is great that you want to breastfeed your daughter.BUT it is vital to do enough xylitol to protect teeth.I suggest at least two teaspoons xylitol a day – spaced out throughout the day – in water is excellent.The whole family must do this too! You mention fluoride toothpaste suggested by your dentist.I cannot think what paste he would suggest for a young child.I will not get between his advice and what you do, but most dentists are cautious about suggesting toothpaste to a young child – because children tend to eat it. This is why I recommend using one drop of ACT bubblegum or mint fluoride rinse on a brush.Brush the teeth with a drop of this mouth rinse.The alternating use of xylitol ( in the day) and one drop of ACT two or three times a day – brushed over the damaged teeth – should help you to remineralize these damaged teeth and allow you to WOW your dentist at the next visit – maybe all the cavities will be gone! I hope so – since as you know – they can heal quickly if you do enough of the right things!!! Best Wishes,EllieEllie Phillips DDSwww.ZelliesCleanWhiteTeeth.comSolutions for Oral Health!author, Kiss Your Dentist Goodbye

  • Anonymous says:

    I, too, am in a similar situation. My 2 year old has holes (cavities) in her upper lateral incisors, while chalky lines at the gum line, and a big brown "thing" on the occlusal part of an upper deciduous molar. Yikes!!! We took her to the dentist for the first time a few weeks ago and were referred to a pediatric dentist, which we will see in 4 weeks. I'm so scared they will want to give her general anesthesia and drill them!!! We found your blog, bought your book, and started us all on your system. My husband and I have been doing the system twice a day for two to three weeks, and we brush her teeth once or twice a day (always at least at night), and give her xylitol throughout the day. Will the cavities in her incisors heal??? What is the big brown blob on her molar??? We nurse to sleep and on and off thru the night.I really hope we can reverse this and won't have to do the GA!I am planning to contact you for a phone coaching session, and very much look forward to your help!

  • Dr. Ellie says:

    Prevention is so simple – and reversing a cavity in a baby tooth may be quite difficult to do.Remember that a cavity does not NEED to be fixed or filled – providing the infection is stopped.Xylitol is one way to stop the infection – and stop the damage.My suggestion is to try and wait until your child is old enough to sit in the chair and have cavities treated – maybe at age 3 or 4.General anesthetic for a baby or toddler seems to be to be a very scary thing.Ellie

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