Infants are susceptible to cavities just like older children, teens and adults are. However, nursing bottle cavities, or baby bottle syndrome, is different and caused by a particular set of circumstances.
Cavities are caused by acid attack on a susceptible tooth. The acids form due to the interaction of plaque (bacteria) and fermentable carbohydrates, such as sugar, on the tooth.
Nursing bottle cavities occur when an infant is allowed to fall asleep with a bottle in his or her mouth. If the bottle contains a fermentable carbohydrate, such as juice, milk or a fizzy drink, and the liquid pools around the teeth, the bacteria present will form acid, eventually leading to decay.
Nursing bottle cavities are usually seen on the upper front teeth and back molars first. The lower front teeth are largely protected by the tongue, with decay in this area usually only seen in very advanced cases.