Early Childhood Tooth Decay

What causes tooth decay?

Several specific types of bacteria live on the teeth cause decay. When sugar is consumed the bacteria use the sugar to produce an acid. It is this acid that dissolves the tooth structure causing an “infection” in the tooth. The infection is called decay.

What is Early Childhood Caries?

Children who go to bed with a bottle of milk, juice, sweetened drink or who are breastfed at-will at night are more likely to get tooth decay. Because the sugar in the formula, milk, juice, breast milk stays in contact with the teeth for a long time during the night, the teeth can decay quickly.

How can I prevent Early Childhood Caries?

bottle caries

Here are a few tips:

  • put your child to bed with a bottle of plain water, not milk or juice
  • stop nursing when your child is asleep and wipe the gums/teeth with a clean cloth
  • try not to let your child walk around using a bottle of milk or juice as a pacifier
  • do not dip your child’s pacifier in honey or sugar
  • start to teach your child to drink from a cup as early as 6 months of age