Early Childhood Caries

Early Childhood Caries (ECC) is a form of dental decay that destroys the primary teeth of toddlers and preschool children. ECC commonly occurs as a result when parents put their children to bed with a bottle of milk or juice.

Children and ECC:

  • As the child sips on the juice or milk throughout the night, the sugars from these beverage accumulate in the child’s mouth.
  • Since toothbrushing is not being done to remove the sugars, they stay in the oral cavity overnight.
  • Bacteria in the oral cavity feed off the sugars, metabolizing them and producing acidic products.
  • The acid produced by the bacteria begin a process of demineralization on the teeth, resulting in decay.
  • During slumber, our saliva flow rate is reduced and it becomes harder for the saliva to flush over the teeth to wash away the sugars.

The treatment of ECC is expensive due to the cooperative capacity of babies and preschool children. Patients with ECC usually have to be put under general anesthesia in order to have all the teeth treated, restored or surgically removed. To prevent Early Childhood Caries, parents should be sure to help their toddler or small child brush their teeth with a smear of fluoridated toothpaste. Also, avoid allowing the child to sip on sugary beverages before bed or throughout the night.