Early childhood caries, formerly known as baby bottle tooth decay is a preventable, infectious disease that is caused by bacteria in the mouth. About 5 minutes after you eat or drink sugary foods or starches, the bacteria in your mouth begin to form acids that attack the tooth surface, leading to cavities. Children who snack frequently, who sleep with a bottle filled with milk or juice are at risk for early childhood caries.
Parents play an important role in the prevention and detection of cavities. Studies show that children are not born with these cavity-causing bacteria; rather these bacteria are transferred from caregivers or parents to the child at an early age. It is important that parents and caregivers visit their dentist to ensure their own oral health.
Proper feeding techniques and cleaning your child’s mouth will also help prevent ECC. When your baby’s first tooth arrives to make sure you use a small soft toothbrush with a tiny smear of toothpaste or a wet washcloth to wipe the teeth twice a day. At the age of two, you can use a pea-sized dab of fluoride toothpaste to brush your child's teeth, and guide your child to rinse and spit. Usually, a child will need the help of an adult to properly brush and floss until about the age of 8.
Examine your child’s mouth weekly, by lifting the lips and looking for signs of caries. Any visible areas of white spots or dark spots should be of concern and will need to be examined by a dentist.
Do not let your baby sleep with a bottle filled with milk or juice
Put water in baby’s bottle or Sippy cup at bedtime or naptime
Avoid passing your saliva to your child
Evaluate your child teeth on a regular basis
Keep baby’s mouth clean
Offer healthy foods and limit sugary foods or drinks
Take your child to a dentist regularly