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Steps to Take to Prevent Early Childhood Caries

It is easy to keep your child’s teeth healthy from the start by preventing Early Childhood Caries. If you care for an infant it is important to realize that as soon as the baby’s teeth first appear, they are susceptible to decay.  By spending a few minutes each day to care for your baby’s teeth, you can help to ensure that your child’s teeth remain strong and decay free.  After each feeding, wipe the baby’s gums with clean gauze.  This will remove any residual food that can harm erupting teeth.  When your child’s teeth start to erupt, brush them gently with a child size toothbrush.  The first dental visit should occur within 6 months after the first tooth erupts.  An optimal level of fluoride can help to prevent tooth decay.  Discuss with your dentist how your child can get the right amount of fluoride. 

Dental decay is caused when the child’s teeth are frequently exposed to sugary liquids, milk (including breast milk), formula, fruit juice and other sweetened liquids.  Bacteria in the plaque use sugars to produce acid, this acid attacks the tooth enamel.  Tooth decay can occur after frequent, repeated acid attacks.  So it matters not just what the child drinks, but how often and for how long their teeth are exposed to decay-causing bacteria.  For example, allowing a baby to fall asleep with a bottle can harm the teeth.  While the baby sleeps, the flow of saliva decreases.  The harmful sugary liquids collect around the teeth, which causes a prolonged acid attack. 

Here are some steps you can do to help prevent Early Childhood Caries: 

  • Avoid sugary drinks and food.
  • Don’t dip pacifiers in sugar or sweetened liquid.
  • A sippy cup or bottle filled with sugary liquids should not be used as a pacifier. 
  • If your child is thirsty between meals, use only water in a bottle or sippy cup.
  • Encourage your child to drink from a cup by the first birthday.


Dental Caries