Early Childhood Caries
Early childhood caries are also known as cavities or tooth decay in young children—specifically from birth to 6 years old. Children are very susceptible to tooth decay because the enamel (protective covering) on primary teeth is much thinner than the enamel on permanent teeth. Therefore, it’s important to monitor your child’s sugar intake and oral hygiene habits, as well as scheduling regular visits to the dentist to ensure their baby teeth grow in properly and remain healthy.
When baby teeth decay, it can severely impact the permanent teeth growing underneath. Early childhood caries can be very harmful to a child’s oral health by preventing the proper growth and eruption of their permanent teeth.
Preventing Early Childhood Caries
There are few ways to help prevent early childhood caries:
- Avoid giving your child sugary drinks like soda and fruit juice
- Do not let your child fall asleep while drinking a bottle of milk, as the liquid can sit on the teeth at night and sugar can rapidly decay teeth. Water is always best for children if they need to drink something at night.
- Schedule your child’s first dental appointment when you see their first tooth erupt, or by age 1
Early childhood caries can also occur when unlimited breastfeeding is allowed throughout the day or night. Unlimited breastfeeding, especially at night, may be on the rise due to single working mothers needing more sleep or different cultures where it is common to sleep with a baby in the parent’s bed. You can help prevent early childhood caries in your baby by not allowing them to consume any liquids at night except for water.
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