Early childhood caries (ECC), also known as baby bottle tooth decay (BBTD) is a preventable, infectious disease caused by certain types of bacteria (bugs) that live in your mouth. Bacteria stick to the film on your teeth called plaque.
The bacteria feed on what you eat, especially sugars (including fruit sugars) and cooked starch (bread, potatoes, rice, pasta, etc.).
About 5 minutes after you eat, or drink, the bacteria begin making acids as they digest your food.
These acids can break down the tooth’s outer surface and dissolve valuable minerals.
The result is cavities. Children who snack frequently, have a high level of bacteria, or go to sleep with a bottle containing anything other than water, are more likely to have ECC.
Many parents do not realize that nutritious food and drinks such as milk, formula, breast milk, and fruit juice have naturally occurring sugars that contribute to the decay process.
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You can’t stop feeding your child nutritious food, but you can regulate when and how often your child is exposed to “sugar hits.”
Limit between meal snacking and if a bottle is needed, use only water at nap/bed time.
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