What is “Early Childhood Caries”(formerly known as “baby bottle tooth decay”)?

Early Childhood Caries is formerly known as baby bottle tooth decay or nursing caries. The condition occurs when the child is overexposed to sugary liquids. Severe early childhood caries usually occurs when the child is routinely put to bed with a bottle containing juice, soda or milk. It can also occur from allowing toddlers to “graze” with a sippy cup. Early childhood caries often destroys teeth and leads to the need for major dental treatment. The condition can potentially damage your child’s adult teeth if left untreated.

By following the guidelines listed below, you can prevent baby bottle tooth decay from occurring.

  • Help your child start learning to drink from a regular cup by their first birthday.
  • If your child “grazes,” only allow water in any bottles or sippy cups used.
  • Clean your baby’s gums with a fresh gauze pad after each feeding.
  • Begin brushing as soon as you see the first tooth.
  • Never give your child a pacifier coated in sugar or dipped in honey.
  • The bacteria that causes caries is transmissible, avoid sharing drinks or kissing your baby close to the mouth, especially if you have not seen your dentist for regular appointments.