Sweet baby: Causes & Prevention of Early Childhood Caries

Sweet baby: Causes & Prevention of Early Childhood Caries

Did you know that cavities and caries can happen at any age? That’s right! As soon as you’ve got teeth, bacteria begin to feast on any sugars that may be sitting on the surface. Not to worry, however, learning about the causes of early childhood tooth decay is the first step towards preventing it.


Early childhood caries or ECC is the early development of cavities in children under five years old. These are caries and cavities that often first develop on a child’s upper front teeth. They typically first show up as white spots near the gum line. 

These white spots can be tough to detect but, if left untreated, can look worse and lead to brown spots, holes or broken teeth which will require more extensive intervention and procedures to repair. 


Industry researchers state that ECC is caused by liquids and foods that contain sugar, like milk and juice, are left in your child’s mouth for many hours. The bacteria eats the sugar which creates an acid that dissolves the teeth. 


Early intervention is key. Creating healthy eating and dental habits at a young age can make all the difference. Here are some ways to prevent ECC:

  • Limit bottle-feeding your child to mealtimes. Try not to let them walk around with it or drink from it throughout the day.
  • Reduce the amount of sweet and starchy foods your baby consumes. 
  • After meals, clean your baby’s gums with a soft toothbrush or cloth and water. Start this habit before their first tooth erupts so they grow accustomed to it.
    • Once their first few teeth erupt, clean them using a soft toothbrush twice a day with a hint of toothpaste. 
  • Avoid dipping pacifiers in any sweetened liquid (and avoid using pacifiers at all, if you can).
  • Teach your child to start drinking from a cup as early as possible, preferably before their first birthday. 
    • Drinking from a cup means the liquid is less likely to pool around the front teeth.
  • Start dentist visits early. Take your child to a pediatric dentist for an early evaluation before their turn one. 


Caring for a baby is stressful and worrying about ECC only adds to your plate but, remember that we’re with you every step of the way. If you’ve got any questions or concerns about your child’s smile, give us a call at (613)-591-0834 or schedule your next visit today.

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