Tooth decay is a serious problem for some children. Decay in the upper and lower front teeth are the most common problems.
Bottle mouth; Bottle carries; Baby bottle tooth decay; Early childhood caries (ECC)
Your child needs strong, healthy baby teeth to chew food and to talk. Baby teeth also make space in children's jaws for their adult teeth to grow in straight.
Foods and drinks with sugar that sit in your child's mouth cause tooth decay. Milk, formula, and juice all have sugar in them. A lot of snacks children eat also have sugar in them.
To prevent tooth decay, consider breastfeeding your baby. Breast milk by itself is the best food for your baby. It keeps the inside of your baby's mouth healthy and prevents tooth decay.
If you are bottle-feeding your baby:
Check your child's teeth regularly.
If you have infants or toddlers, use a pea-size amount of non-fluoridated toothpaste on a washcloth to gently rub their teeth. When your children are older and can spit out all of the toothpaste after brushing, use a pea-size amount of fluoridated toothpaste on their toothbrushes with soft, nylon bristles to clean their teeth.
Floss your child's teeth when all of their baby teeth come in. This is usually by the time they are 2 ½ years old.
If your baby is 6 months or older, they need fluoride to keep their teeth healthy.
Feed your children foods that contain minerals to strengthen their teeth.
Take your children to the dentist when all their baby teeth have come in or at age 2 or 3, whichever comes first.
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Ribeiro NM, Ribeiro MA. Breastfeeding and early childhood caries: a critical review. J Pediatr (Rio J). 2004;80:S199-S210.
Sexton S, Natale R. Risks and benefits of pacifiers. Am Fam Physician. 2009;79:681-685.
Touger-Decker RJ. Position of the American Dietetic Association: oral health and nutrition. J Am Diet Assoc. 2007;107:1418-1428.
Updated by: Ilona Fotek, DMD, MS, Palm Beach Prosthodontics Dental Associates, West Palm Beach, FL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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