Early Childhood Caries
At Chestermere Station Dentistry, we know that Early Childhood Caries (ECC) (sometimes called Early Childhood Cavities) is a significant health concern that negatively affects the oral health of infants and children.
What Are Dental Caries?
Dental Caries is a chronic disease that is five times more common than asthma and seven times more common than hay fever in children! Essentially, early childhood caries are cavities that affect the primary teeth of infants and pre-school children. ECC’s first show up as white spots near the gum line and can be hard to see at first. As the decay progresses, the ECC can look like brown spots, holes or broken teeth. ECCs are sometimes referred to as “nursing caries,” “baby bottle caries,” or “baby bottle tooth decay” which are related to improper nursing or baby bottle use as a contributing factor. However, it is not the sole factor as ECC often follows a characteristic pattern of development. If caught early enough, the disease can be stopped from turning into cavities.
What to do about ECC?
Approximately 40% of children experience dental caries by the age of five, and 8% of two-year-olds have some form of decay. If left untreated, lesions can lead to expensive treatment, disruption of growth and tooth development, pain, and life-threatening infections. Regular checkups and prevention are the best way to identify risk factors and determine appropriate treatment intervention. As such, the Canadian Dental Association recommends that the first dental visit occur within six months of the eruption of the first primary tooth and no later than twelve months of age.
The purpose of this early visit is to assess and determine the risk of dental disease and to initiate a preventative treatment program that includes diet, oral hygiene, and fluoride use.
With early intervention, we can help your child establish good oral health habits. It is our goal to ensure early detection and proper counselling so that ECC can be minimized and hopefully eliminated.
What Can I Do to Prevent ECC?
- Do not put your child to bed with a bottle filled with milk, formula, juice or other sweet liquid
- Adopt a healthy balanced diet for your child (including, protein, fruits, and vegetables), and limit starchy, sugary snacks and sugary drinks
- Do not allow your child to walk around with a bottle or randomly drink from it throughout the day. Only give your child a bottle during meals
- Clean your baby’s gums with a soft toothbrush or cloth and water starting at birth.
- Try to teach your child to drink from a cup as early as possible. Drinking from a cup will help prevent liquid from pooling around the front teeth
- Never dip a pacifier in anything sweet, like sugar water or honey
By following these suggestions, you can help your child along a path to a lifetime of good dental and oral health. Remember, healthy little smiles grow up to be healthy big smiles!