As soon as a child’s first teeth appear they are at risk of tooth decay. Any sign of tooth decay in a child under the age of 3 years is described as Severe Early Childhood Caries (S-ECC) and should be brought to the attention of a dentist.
Early Childhood Caries (ECC)/Baby Bottle Decay
One of the most common causes of tooth decay is frequent exposure to sugary drinks. Allowing sugar sweetened drinks to pool around the teeth for long periods of time produces acid which weakens and eventually decays the teeth.
Giving your baby/toddler fruit juices or sugar-sweetened drinks in their feeding bottles, especially in bed, results in almost continuous bathing of the enamel with sugars and leads to severe and rapid tooth destruction, a condition described as baby bottle/nursing decay. A similar problem can arise from giving a baby a soother dipped in honey or sugar.
This condition is preventable.
"Children should be fed and put to bed - NOT, put to bed and fed". Here are some tips to help prevent tooth decay developing in your child:
- The baby should not sleep with a bottle in its mouth. Even milk can cause decay if a baby is let sleep with it in its mouth. Finish feeding before putting baby to bed.
- Sweet drinks, fizzy drinks, tea, fruit drinks or juice (for example blackcurrant, orange or apple juice) should not go in a baby’s bottle.
- Avoid dipping a soother (dummy) in honey, jam or anything sweet.
- Encourage drinking from a sippy cup from six months. Try to stop bottle use by your child's first birthday.
- Begin brushing/cleaning your child's teeth when the first tooth appears., and not with a Fluoride toothpaste for children under 2 years unless advised by a Dentist.
- Once weaned, baby's should be given a balanced diet avoiding sugary foods. Check food labels e.g breakfast cereals can be high in sugar. Less than 5grams per 100g is low sugar. A varied diet in line with healthy eating is recommended.