Children’s Dental Health Month-Early Childhood Caries

February 22, 2018

February is children’s dental health month and we have chosen to highlight the childhood disease of Early Childhood Caries (ECC) or baby bottle decay. ECC is an infectious disease that can affect any child and can begin as early as the eruption of your child’s first tooth (around 6 months old).

As foods enter the oral cavity bacteria break down carbohydrates and sugars and produce acid.  The acid drains teeth of the minerals that keep them strong. This in turn leads to decay. ECC is the most common chronic childhood disease in the United States. It is 5 times more prevalent than asthma and 4 times more common than early childhood obesity. More than half of all children in our nation have cavities by the time they enter the second grade. ECC is a significant oral and overall health problem in our country.

“They’re just baby teeth, so it doesn’t matter if they have cavities.”

First and foremost, children who are affected by decay often experience a great deal of pain and discomfort. This discomfort often causes children to act out and distract them from learning, which may set them back academically. The disease can progress rapidly and may have a lasting detrimental impact on a child’s health and well-being. When a baby tooth is lost before the adult tooth is ready to erupt, the proper space for the permanent tooth cannot be maintained without dental intervention.

As stated earlier, bacteria initiate the disease process of ECC and they feed on the foods we consume.  A child’s diet plays an important role in prevention. Whether bottle or breast-feeding, unrestricted, at will intake of sugary liquids (including milk) throughout the day or while in bed should be discouraged. After the eruption of the first tooth, brushing with an age appropriate toothbrush twice daily is recommended. If you live in an area without fluoridated water, ask your child’s physician or dentist about a fluoride supplement.

At Safe Harbor Smiles we see children of all ages and we recommend seeing children at or near their first birthday for their first dental check-up, so that if cavities are present they will be diagnosed and treated as early as possible.

If you have any questions please call our office and we would be more than happy to help you.

Safe Harbor Smiles

(360) 479-4380


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