Friday, June 13, 2014

Early Childhood Caries

What is early childhood caries?                     

Early childhood caries, which used to be called “baby bottle tooth decay” and “nursing caries,” is a severe form of dental decay found in very young children who presumably are put to sleep with any liquid other than water in a bottle. Children who have experienced prolonged breastfeeding will have the same type of tooth decay patterns. Many times, the decay is very advanced before the parent notices the problem. This is another reason that we want to see your child for his or her first dental visit while those new teeth are still in the eruption phase.

How does early childhood caries develop?

The teeth most affected by early childhood caries are the upper front teeth. As the child falls asleep with a bottle containing any liquid other than water (or at the breast), pools of the sugared liquid collect against the tooth surfaces. These sugars feed the bacteria found in bacterial plaque to produce an acid, which starts the decay process. When the demineralization process is not stopped through proper prevention, the crowns of the teeth can be destroyed to the gum line; abscesses can develop, and the child can experience severe pain and discomfort.

What is the best prevention?

When oral bacteria are fed liquid sugar for a prolonged period of time, the resulting acid can be very damaging to tooth structure. Similarly, when oral bacteria are fed little bits of sugared liquid, nonstop, over a day’s time, the results can be quite damaging to tooth structure.

We believe the best prevention for this type of problem begins with an understanding of the decay process, and how you can stop it before it even starts. We recommend that you bring your children to the dentist when they are in the infant stage so that we can perform an infant oral examination and discuss with the child’s oral self-care, including:

·         Children should not be put to sleep with a sugared liquid in a bottle. No milk. No juice. No soda. Plain water only.
·         Children, including infants, require daily oral cleansing. If no teeth are present, the gums should be gently wiped with a wet cloth.
·         When teeth are present they should be brushed with fluoridated toothpaste, but only with a very small amount about the size of a pea, or less.
·         Liquid sugars and other easily fermentable carbohydrates such as white bread, cakes, cookies, or crackers should be given with meals and not as “snacks.”
·         The proper level of systemic fluoride should be in place by the time your child is 6 months of age.        


  1. Thanks for taking the time to share informative information with us. There were so many details that you provided in your article. Have a wonderful rest of you day.
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