Teeth are one of the most important parts of the human body. Parents never forget the day their little one gets their first tooth! Today, more than half of the population of America is vulnerable to oral health diseases. This applies to infants and toddler as well.
Early Childhood Caries (ECC) or Baby Bottle Tooth Decay affects children who are exposed to milk, fruit juices or any other sweet liquids for a long period of time. These beverages have naturally occurring sugars. Usually, children with ECC go to sleep with a bottle in their mouth which exposes their teeth to the liquid for an extended period of time. ECC isn’t always noticeable to the untrained eye in its early stages, but when it starts growing, it can be one of the most dangerous dental diseases for the infants.
What is Early Childhood Caries?
ECC is defined as the presence of decayed tooth (teeth), some missing teeth along with some filled tooth surfaces in any primary teeth in children from 0 to 6 years.
When sweets enter the mouth, the bacteria that live in plaque break down the carbohydrates producing the acids that cause teeth to lose their minerals. If this goes on for an extended period of time and and oral hygiene is not maintained, the breakdown of tooth structure leads to weakness of the enamel of the teeth and ultimately decay. Depending on the severity of ECC, extensive dental care be may required. If children are too young to be cooperative in the dental chair, treatment will most likely need to be done under general anesthesia.
If left unchecked, ECC can cause some serious damage to the teeth and may even destroy them beyond repair, resulting in extractions. If left untreated, severe pain and life-threatening infections can result.
Reports says that around 40% of the children aged below 5 have ECC. Further, the details show that 28% of the American children aged between 2 and 5 years have cavities and 19% of the children aged between 5 and 19 years have untreated dental caries.
So, how a parent can detect this disease in their children? If this is a silent invader, then when to start taking precautions? “Parents should get their little ones for their first dental check-up within six months of their teeth erupting and no less than 12 months of age.” says Dr Jatinder Sharma, DDS from Signature Smiles.
How to prevent Early Childhood Caries?
There are some of the steps which you can follow to ensure that ECC stays far away from your little ones.
- Do not dip pacifiers in any liquid which is sweetened.
- Teach your child to start drinking from a cup as soon as they are developmentally ready. This is because when drinking from a cup, the liquid is less likely to pool around the front teeth.
- Adopt a healthy diet for your child which has less sugary drinks and snacks.
- Clean your kid’s gums with a soft toothbrush or washcloth and water at birth. When the first tooth appears, use a soft brush twice a day.
- Do not let your child sleep with a bottle in their mouth.
Above all, try to keep sugary things out of the reach of children or limit their intake. Research shows that children who drink from a bottle even after the age of 15 months or drink more than 3 times a day from the bottle are at higher risk of getting ECC.
To take care of your baby’s and your dental health, the friendly doctors at Signature Smiles are here for you. The team of Signature Smiles Family Dentistry is well qualified and offer the best treatments for you and your family. Get in touch with us for all your dental needs at Signature Smiles.