Bottle feeding, especially when it is prolonged at night leads to tooth decay even in very young children, says the Children's Hospital at Westmead.
Lactose present in mother's milk and formula combines with plaque in a baby's mouth and chips away at the enamel of the primary teeth. The decay always takes place on the back of the upper front teeth which indicates that the bottle held in place right there had the drink which is the cause.
Primary teeth are important because they help children in chewing food properly, developing proper speech and guiding permanent teeth into the right place. Yet, as many as one-third of a group of 100 five-year olds suffer from tooth decay, with nine per cent experiencing severe decay. Professor Widmer has this practical advice to give: "The golden message is two minutes brushing twice a day with fluoride," he said. "I understand parents are busy, but that's the gold standard - brushing before school and before bed."
Australian researchers have discovered that bottle-linked decay occurred more in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, among people from lower socio-economic or non-English-speaking backgrounds, and in rural areas that suffered from a lack of services and among babies of single or very young mothers who did not know how to cope with crying babies.
Doctors also state that a sweet drink, rather than water at night would set a pattern that could later on lead to obesity, another big problem that Australia faces.