There's nothing cuter than a baby's smile, thanks in part to those adorable baby teeth. Unfortunately, 28 percent of children in America aged 2 to 5 suffer from primary teeth tooth decay. This condition is officially called "Early Childhood Caries" (ECC) and it threatens precious smiles across the country.
Not Just the Bottle’s Fault
Early Childhood Caries in infants' and children's teeth is more commonly known as "baby bottle tooth decay" (BBTD). Some experts argue that this phrase is misleading since poor feeding and eating practices are not entirely to blame.
The term may have been born from the fact that baby teeth cavities are commonly caused by putting a child to sleep with a bottle. As liquid pools in the mouth, it remains in contact with teeth for a long time. This allows bacteria to convert sugar into acids, which attack tooth enamel. Over time, the inner layers of the teeth are worn down, eventually leading to tooth decay.
It's what's inside the bottle that counts -- fluids containing sugary substances like milk, formula, fruit juice or soft drinks can wreak havoc on baby teeth. This increases the risk of tooth decay in babies that can start as soon as the first baby tooth appears.
Baby Teeth Matter
Unfortunately, some parents underestimate the importance of these little teeth, reasoning that they fall out anyway. What they may not realize is that babies need them for good reasons -- to chew their food, to speak and to hold ample space in the jaw for their permanent teeth, not to mention to charm their way out of any trouble.
This is why starting with a good tooth decay prevention routine early on is important to keep your baby's teeth healthy and to encourage a lifetime of good dental habits. Experts suggest the following tips to properly care for baby's teeth:
Prevention is always better than cure, and starting regular dental visits early is one big step you can take to ensure your baby's oral health is at its best.