What causes tooth decay?

Several specific types of bacteria that live on the teeth cause decay. When sugar is consumed, the bacteria use the sugar and then manufacture acids that dissolve the teeth and cause an infection in the tooth. This infection is called decay.

What is infant tooth decay?

Now known as Early Childhood Caries (ECC), infant tooth decay results when babies fall asleep with breast milk or milk, formula and juice from a bottle on their teeth. Babies are not able to clear the pooling liquid from their mouths.

Because the sugar in formula, milk or juice stays in contact with the teeth for a long time during the night or at naptime, the teeth can decay quickly.

Here are some tips to avoid Early Childhood Caries:

  • Brush your baby’s teeth at least twice a day.
  • Put your child to bed with a bottle of plain water, not milk or juice.
  • Stop nursing when your child is asleep and wipe the teeth with a clean washcloth.
  • Try not to let your child walk around using a bottle or sippee cup of milk or juice as a pacifier.
  • Start to teach your child to drink from a cup at about six months of age. Plan to stop using a bottle by twelve to fourteen months at the latest.
  • Don’t dip your child’s pacifier in honey or sugar.
  • Read, sing or rock your child to sleep as an alternative to continuous feeding.