Bacteria causing decay are transmitted, soon after an infant’s first teeth erupt in the mouth. Early childhood caries (ECC), also known as “baby bottle caries”, is a major health concern that continues to negatively affect the oral health of children aged 2-5. Frequent bottle feeding at night is associated with ECC, as – during sleep – the amount of saliva in the mouth is significantly reduced while the milk stays on the teeth, causing decay. Therefore, use baby bottles only for milk or water and only during the day, never when the baby is asleep.

What parents must do:

Proper oral hygiene practices, such as cleaning an infant’s teeth with a gauze following consumption of foods or liquids, should be implemented by the time of the eruption of the first tooth. This happens as the bacterial dental plaque that forms on teeth right from the onset of an infant’s teeth, doesn’t get washed away by saliva, thus causing decay. Parents are, therefore, strongly encouraged to brush their child’s teeth diligently, from a very early age.

Unrestricted consumption of liquids, beverages and foods containing carbohydrates (e.g. juice drinks, soft drinks, milk, and starches) can also contribute to decay after the eruption of the first tooth. On the contrary, a diet rich in vitamins, minerals and especially calcium (e.g. fruit, vegetables, yoghurt, milk and cheese) reduce the risk of ECC, giving children strong and healthy teeth.

Remember that prevention is better than cure, so never neglect proper and regular brushing, the use of fluoride for more resilience to acid exposure (as per your dentist’s instructions) and periodical check by your dentist who can give you the right kind of advice you need.

Source: Magazine We and the Dentist 2015