Kids who are frequently eating sugary food and beverages such as fruit juice, softdrinks and milk for extended periods of time run the risk of suffering from Early Childhood Caries (ECC). This is an infectious disease that can start even as early as the teeth begin to surface (around 6 months), usually progresses quickly, causing discomfort to the child.

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The American Dental Association defines as the ‘presence of one or more decayed (non-cavitated or cavitated lesions), missing (due to caries) or filled tooth surfaces in any primary tooth in a preschool-age child between birth and 71 months of age.'

There are many factors by caries develop but this condition is primarily initiated by bacteria, mainly Streptococcus mutans. When food enters the mouth, the bacteria break down the carbohydrates and it produces acids which causes mineral loss from the teeth.

ECC calls for extensive dental repair, often under general anesthesia for children aged 22 months. If left untreated, it can further destroy the child’s teeth and can have a lasting effect on the child’s general health.

The effect of ECC is more infection and pain; it can affect communication and speech, dietary nutrition and eating, learning, sleeping, playing and the overall quality of life, even reaching adulthood. Many children suffering from ECC require expensive, restorative treatment.

How to Prevent Children from Getting Early Childhood Caries

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) suggests the following steps for parent to prevent ECC.

For infants:

  1. Visit a pediatric dentist before the child’s first birthday.
  2. Clean infant’s gums using a clean, wet gauze pad or a soft cloth after feeding.
  3. Starting brushing infant’s teeth as soon the first tooth emerges two times a day using a fluoridated toothpaste and soft brittle toothbrush that is fitted to his/her age. Parents must only use a ‘smear’ of toothpaste when brushing the teeth of a child less than 2 years.
  4. Do not breast feed for extended periods.
  5. Infant must not be put to sleep with a bottle of fruit juice, sugar water or milk.
  6. If the child falls asleep, the teeth should be cleaned before putting him/her on bed.


For Toddlers and Young Children:

  1. Encourage your child to drink using a cup even after the first birthday. You may use a training cup (sippy cup) however, it should only be used as a transitional tool to help kids adjust from drinking a bottle to a cup.
  2. When using sippy cups, only put water – except during mealtime. Filling the training cup with sugary beverage and letting a child drink from it throughout the day will encourage growth of cavity-causing bacteria.
  3. Parents must use a ‘pea-size’ amount of toothpaste and assist their child in toothbrushing.
  4. Supervise child while brushing and teach him/her how to spit out the toothpaste.
  5. Guide your child in developing healthy eating habits early and offer sensible nutritious snacks.

Mint Kids Dentistry’s top priority is bringing children and adolescents on the right path to dental health and proper oral hygiene. Dr. Soo Jun believes that early education will prepare kids to a lifetime of optimal dental health. Hence, she educates the importance of routine dental checkups and proper oral care.

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