ECC, sometimes referred to as “baby bottle tooth decay,” is a pattern of severe decay in an infant or toddler’s teeth that is caused by frequent and long exposures to sugary liquids. This can happen when a child falls asleep with a bottle containing milk, formula, fruit juice, or other sweetened liquid. These sugars can pool around the the child’s teeth and gums, leading to tooth decay. In infants, this can also happen due to prolonged breastfeeding or use of a pacifier that contains sugar. This is because babies’ saliva does not naturally contain enough of the protective mineral fluoride to combat decay.
ECC is preventable with thorough and consistent oral hygiene and dietary practices, including brushing your child’s teeth after feedings and before bedtime, avoiding sweetened beverages, and eliminating the use of bottles for prolonged periods of time.
Parents and caregivers should pay special attention to following proper oral hygiene with their children in order to prevent early childhood caries or ECC. Children often imitate their parents’ behaviors, so set a good example by practicing good oral hygiene habits yourself.
Prevent smoking inside the home because it increases the risk of tooth decay in young children. Also, limit sugary foods and drinks like fruit juices, soda, and other sweetened beverages. Limit these treats to mealtimes. If you do provide snacks throughout the day, avoid giving them to your child during bedtime. The sugars will linger on their teeth overnight and harm them while they sleep.
Early childhood caries affects babies and toddlers who have teeth erupting between the ages of six months to three years old. The condition is usually referred to as baby bottle tooth decay, or nursing bottle syndrome. This form of caries is preventable through good oral hygiene habits such as brushing twice a day for two minutes each time, flossing once a day, avoiding sugary drinks and snacks, and visiting the dentist twice a year for a checkup and cleaning. It is important for parents to be aware of the risks their child faces with early childhood caries so they can take the necessary steps to prevent them.
More than 20% of children age three and younger have cavities in their baby and permanent teeth. Cavities in baby teeth can turn into more serious forms of decay while your child is still young. Baby teeth are referred to as primary teeth because they are crucial in helping children chew and speak properly, as well as maintaining space in the jaw for the permanent teeth to grow into when they erupt. If a baby tooth is lost too early due to untreated decay, it can create problems when the adult tooth erupts later. The baby tooth may block the permanent tooth from growing in correctly when it tries to come in. This can result in crooked teeth and gaps between teeth.
Additionally, infections are more likely to occur in baby teeth when left untreated, so the cavity can spread to the gum and cause pain and swelling. This can be harmful to a child’s overall health if left unchecked. It is important to maintain frequent appointments with your dentist to ensure your baby teeth are coming in healthy and strong. If there are signs of decay, your dentist will be able to treat it before it gets too serious. Your dentist can also provide tips and recommendations for things you can do at home to help keep your little one’s mouth healthy and clean.
Schedule your visit with Dr. Jennifer Nguyen at Legacy Dental Clinic at (825) 467-8888. Located at 4224 Gateway Blvd NW. Edmonton, AB. We can’t wait to meet you and your family!