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Baby teeth are very important for your child’s dental health. They not only help your child chew, speak, and smile, but act as a placeholder for permanent teeth. When early childhood caries develop (also known as baby bottle tooth decay), then your child’s current and future dental health is affected.

Causes Of Early Childhood Caries

There are three major causes of baby bottle tooth decay which are easily preventable. These causes include:

  • Prolonged exposure to sugary drinks. This can happen if a baby is put to bed with a bottle or if the bottle is used as a pacifier rather than a feeder.
  • Oral bacteria spread to the infant from the caregiver if the caregiver cleans a pacifier with their mouth or shares a spoon with the child.
  • Not enough fluoride consumption. Too much fluoride may cause a harmless cosmetic condition to develop on teeth (fluorosis), but not enough results in weak teeth susceptible to decay.

Prevention Of Early Childhood Caries

It is very easy to prevent the development of early childhood caries if you take the following actions:

  • After feeding, wipe down your infants gums with a clean, damp cloth.
  • When your child’s first teeth first appear (usually between 6 and 12 months), then start brushing them with a rice-size amount of fluoride toothpaste (pea-sized amount when the child is between 3 and 6 years old).
  • Bring your child to see the dentist for regular check-ups.
  • Only put breast milk, formula, or cow’s milk in a bottle. Do not fill bottles with sugar water, sugary juices, or soda.
  • Do not put your child to bed with a bottle.
  • Do not use a bottle to pacify a child; only use it as a feeder.
  • Do not dip pacifiers in sugar or honey.
  • Don’t share saliva through feeding spoons or pacifiers.
  • Encourage healthy eating habits in your child (avoid baby foods and snacks sweetened with sugar).
  • Encourage your child to drink from a cup by their first birthday.