Dentists Warn Against Putting Fizzy Drinks in Baby Bottles: 'I've Seen a Two-Year-Old Have to Have Nearly All of His Teeth Taken Out'

A dentist has urged parents not to feed babies sugary sodas, recalling the case of a toddler who had his rotten teeth removed.

Lauren Harrhy, a dentist in the town of Pontypool in South Wales, U.K. told BBC News parents are risking children's oral health by putting fizzy drinks and sugary milkshakes in baby bottles, sprinkling sugar on fruit, and giving them sweets.

Harrhy has treated children whose teeth are "mushy" because of their diets, she said.

"I've seen a two-year-old have to have nearly all of his teeth taken out—it's quite distressing," the dentist said.

Speaking a decade after the launch of a health initiative in Wales to tackle the fact half of under-fives had tooth decay in 2009, Harrhy said progress had been made but some parents don't realize how sugary some products are.

She explained: "Lots of people say 'I thought I'd put a bit of milkshake in because they like it', but milkshake is as sugary as Coke."

Being put under anesthetic to have their teeth taken out may leave some children with a lifelong fear of the dentist, she warned. Children might be "really nervous" about visiting the dentist after waking up "sore and scared" following an extraction, Harrhy said.

Parent Kirsty Lee told BBC News it can sometimes be challenging to get her six-year-old to brush her teeth. Her daughter has autism, and can sometimes head-butt or bite Lee when she tries to get her to clean her teeth.

Children's oral health is also a concern in the U.S., where around 20 percent of five to 11-year-olds have at least one untreated decayed tooth, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). By the time they start kindergarten, 40 percent of children have tooth decay, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) states. The problem can extend into adolescence, with one in seven 12 to 19-year-olds having at least one rotting tooth.

Kids from low-income households are twice as likely to have cavities, compared with those from high-income families, according to the CDC.

To protect a child's teeth, parents and carers should try to provide fluoridated tap water, 0.7 milligrams per liter being the optimum, the agency advises. The My Water's Fluoride website provides a list of levels in different areas.

Using fluoride toothpaste, depending on their age, can also protect a child's teeth, as well cleaning the mouth every day as soon as the first tooth appears.

Avoiding sugary foods, such as cookies and candy, also prevents decay. Sugary dried fruits, such as raisins, can also cause cavities if they become lodged in the grooves of the teeth, the AAP warns.

The body also advises against putting babies to bed with a bottle filled with a liquid other than water, or as a pacifier. They stress that milk, formula juices, and sweet drinks like soda all contain sugar. Parents should also not dip pacifiers in sweet substances like sugar or honey.

Ruchi Sahota, a family dentist based in California, told Newsweek: "There are a few things that I do with my 4-year-old daughter to encourage her to brush."

The dentist and her daughter sing songs while they brush. She has also bought her a toothbrush with her favorite characters on, and a timer to remind them how long they need to clean.

"We try not to buy the sticky sugary foods that are notorious for sticking to teeth and contributing to cavities," she said. "But when she sees those snacks at birthday parties, we remind her to drink water after."

"In fact, she rarely misses reaching for her water bottle when she's had something sweet to eat or drink. I've reminded her so many times, that it is more second nature," said Sahota.

This article has been updated with comment from Ruchi Sahota.

baby, mother, infant, child, bottle, getty, stock
A dentist has warned parents not to put sugary drinks in their baby's bottle. A stock image shows a mother feeding a boy. Getty

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