Early childhood caries (ECC) or nursing caries or baby bottle tooth decay, occurs between 6 months and 3 years of age, develops rapidly, and can cause severe dental pain and infection. According to American Dental Association, infants as young as 6 months are susceptible to dental decay i.e. as soon as 1st teeth of children erupt, an infant can be susceptible to dental decay.
Bacterial infection by Mutans Streptococci which severely damages teeth enamel is one of the main causes of ECC. Apart from bacterial infection, improper feeding habits and poor dietary intake are main causes of ECC. Prolonged use of bedtime bottles with sugar-sweetened drinks causes pooling of liquid around the teeth and contributes to tooth decay. Another poor dietary habit that increases susceptibility to ECC is excessive use of table sugar by parents in the complementary foods that parents introduce in their infant's diet. Breast milk provides protection from ECC and substitution of breast milk with infant milk formulas at a very early age is known to increase susceptibility to ECC.
Here are some simple tips that can help you prevent formation of ECC in your infant or toddler:
- Keep Teeth Clean: As soon as your baby's 1st teeth erupt, get into a habit of keeping them clean by gently wiping them with a soft washcloth.
- For infants less than 6 months old, it is best to feed them on a regular basis i.e. on schedule rather than continuously on demand.
- Complementary feeds that contain simple sugar should not be introduced in the baby's diet unless the baby is 6 months old or doubles his birth weight.
- As far as possible, use water-spoon to feed your infant once you start complementary feeding.
- Avoid use of a bottle for feeding completely. However, if unavoidable, use bottle feeds for water, milk or formula only.
- Do not use bedtime bottle for feeding your baby. Instead, make sure you feed your baby at least 20-30 minutes before his bedtime to avoid accumulation of liquids and simple sugars in the mouth.
- If you do put your baby on bottle feeds, wean him off bottle by the time he is 1 years old
- Clean your baby's teeth with a washcloth after every bottle feed.
- Encourage your child to use only cups to drink liquids by the time he is 1 year old.
- Good snacking habits can also prevent ECC. Avoid giving foods such as chips, bread, fruits like banana, fruit drinks, sweetened beverages, desserts, cookies, cakes, honey, table sugar, chocolates or candies as in between snacks to toddlers (children aged 1 to 3 years). Milk, cheese toast, vegetable slices are better snacking options for toddlers to prevent ECC.
Other than these homely tips, American Dental Association in their "Statement on Early Childhood Caries" emphasises that the 1st dental appointment of an infant should be planned before their 1st birthday. It is also suggested that it's best to take children for a yearly dental check-up to keep dental caries in check.
Click on the link http://bit.ly/Appystore_shinysmilesihave to watch video nursery rhyme 'Shiny smile' to encourage your child to brush teeth.