Early Childhood Caries (Decay/Cavities)

What Causes Tooth Decay?

Food + Plaque germs + Time = Cavities.  The food we eat is digested by the bacteria that live on our teeth and if the germs aren’t removed by regular brushing, cavities can form.

What Is Early Childhood Caries?

Children who develop cavities before the age of six have “early childhood caries” which is the term for decay or cavities.  Children who drink bottles to go to sleep or during nighttime, breastfeed to sleep or on-demand throughout the night, drink juice, pop or sports drinks are most likely to develop cavities at this young age. 

Nighttime is important for kids because they need adequate rest to grow and learn.  Children who drink anything but water at nighttime are at a much higher risk of developing decay.  The good news is that almost 100% of cavities are preventable and this is why the American Dental Association (ADA), American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) and American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that a child’s first dental visit occurs around their first birthday.

Some Tips To Avoid Early Childhood Tooth Decay

  • Do not put your child to bed with a bottle.
  • Wean children from breastfeeding to sleep and over nighttime.
  • Only give milk or juice at mealtimes and give your child a sippy of water to drink throughout the day.
  • Provide healthy snacks such as raw fruits and vegetables rather than fruit snacks, processed crackers and puffs, and pureed pouches.
  • Brush your child’s teeth with fluoride toothpaste twice daily and visit the dentist regularly.

What Is Fluoride?

Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral and it prevents tooth decay. The best source of fluoride is tap water and fluoride toothpaste.  We will show you how much toothpaste to use for your child.  Make sure to spit out the extra and don’t rinse!  If your older child is at high risk for decay, they may be prescribed a higher strength fluoride toothpaste and we may recommend more frequent cleanings and professional fluoride applications.