Early Childhood Caries

Posted on : 13-02-2013 | By : Haddon Suttner | In : Healthy Food, Oral Health, Preventive Dentistry

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Early childhood caries (ECC), also known as baby bottle tooth decay (BBTD) is a preventable infectious disease caused by certain types of bacteria (bugs) that live in your mouth.  Bacteria stick to the film on your teeth called plaque. The bacteria feed on what you eat especially sugars and cooked starch (bread, potatoes, rice, pasta, etc.).  About 5 minutes after you eat, or drink, the bacteria begin making acids as they digest your food.  These acids can break down the tooth’s outer surface and dissolve valuable minerals.  The result is cavities.  Children who snack frequently, have a high level of bacteria, or go to sleep with a bottle containing anything other than water, are more likely to have early childhood caries.

HOW TO PREVENT Early Childhood Caries

Many parents do not realize that nutritious food and drinks such as milk, formula, breast milk, and fruit juice have naturally occurring sugars that contribute to the decay process.  When children go to bed with a bottle containing milk for example, liquid sits in the child’s mouth for an extended period creating a perfect environment for bacteria.  You can’t stop feeding your child nutritious food, but you can regulate when and how often your child is exposed to “sugar hits.”  Limit between meal snacking and if a bottle is needed, use only water at bed time.

  • Hold your baby when you feed him/her
  • Remove the bottle when baby falls asleep
  • Wipe off baby’s teeth/gums with a damp washcloth at least twice per day and when baby is done eating
  • Stick to a feeding schedule and limit between meal snacking
  • Take your child to a CDA member dentist by age one
  • Avoid sharing spoons and forks with your child
  • Use water to clean a pacifier instead of cleaning it in your mouth

Parents play an important role in the early detection of decay.  Lift your child’s lip to look for early signs of decay – white spots.  If you see white spots, especially on your child’s front teeth, schedule an appointment with dentist. When your baby is six months old, begin brushing baby’s teeth with a small, soft toothbrush without toothpaste.

At this age, your dentist or pediatrician may want to prescribe fluoride supplements.  Fluoride helps strengthen developing teeth making them more resistant to decay.

For further details take guidelines from your dentist. You may call Dr. Haddon Suttner for any type of dental problems on 02 9365 6197. For details about the services visit Dentist Bondi.

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