Tooth decay - early childhood
Tooth decay is a serious problem for some children. Decay in the upper and lower front teeth are the most common problems.
Bottle mouth; Bottle carries; Baby bottle tooth decay; Early childhood caries (ECC)
Keeping Teeth Healthy
Your child needs strong, healthy baby teeth to chew food and to talk. Baby teeth also make space in children's jaws for their adult teeth to grow in straight.
Foods and drinks with sugar that sit in your child's mouth cause tooth decay. Milk, formula, and juice all have sugar in them. A lot of snacks children eat also have sugar in them.
Preventing Tooth Decay
To prevent tooth decay, consider breastfeeding your baby. Breast milk by itself is the best food for your baby. It keeps the inside of your baby's mouth healthy and prevents tooth decay.
If you are bottle-feeding your baby:
Caring for Your Child's Teeth
Check your child's teeth regularly.
If you have infants or toddlers, use a pea-size amount of non-fluoridated toothpaste on a washcloth to gently rub their teeth. When your children become older and can spit out all of the toothpaste after brushing, use a pea-size amount of fluoridated toothpaste on their toothbrushes with soft, nylon bristles to clean their teeth.
Floss your child's teeth when all teeth of your baby come in. This is usually by the time they are 2 ½ years old.
If your baby is 6 months or older, they need fluoride to keep their teeth healthy.
Feed your children foods that contain vitamins and minerals to strengthen their teeth.
Take your children to the dentist when all their baby teeth have come in or at age 2 or 3, whichever comes first.
Hughes CV, Dean JA. Mechanical and chemotherapeutic home oral hygiene. In: Dean JA, ed. McDonald and Avery's Dentistry of the Child and Adolescent. 10th ed. St Louis, MO: Elsevier; 2016:chap 7.
Martin B, Baumhardt H, D'Alesio A, Woods K. Oral disorders. In: Zitelli BJ, McIntire SC, Norwalk AJ, eds. Zitelli and Davis' Atlas of Pediatric Diagnosis. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 21.
Tinanoff N. Dental caries. In: Kliegman RM, Stanton BF, St Geme JW, Schor NF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 20th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 312.
Review Date: 2/5/2018
Reviewed By: Ilona Fotek, DMD, MS, Dental Healing Arts, Jupiter, FL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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