Early Childhood Cavities and How to Prevent Them

Early Childhood Cavities and How to Prevent Them

TeethingYou may not be aware of this but your baby can actually suffer from early childhood cavities. Also called baby bottle tooth decay, these cavities occur due to the lingering presence of sugary substances in your baby’s mouth, such as juice and milk. This often happens when a baby is left to drink from their baby bottle over long periods of time, or when they are allowed to go to bed with their bottle.

These baby cavities usually show up as white spots that are around a child’s first teeth, near the gum line, and are rather difficult to notice if you don’t look closely. If left unchecked, these can turn into ugly brown spots, then into decaying and broken teeth. Not taking proper care of your baby’s teeth may leave them with rotting teeth that not only looks unsightly but also unhealthy due to the presence of bacteria there.

How can you prevent this from happening? Your first line of defense from such an occurrence is discipline. You need to discipline not only your baby, but yourself as well, from having them fall asleep with a bottle in their hands. Sure, such a move will give you a good night’s sleep since you won’t have to get up to give them a bottle of milk when they wake up hungry in the middle of the night, but think about the consequences. Your comfort and your child’s easy access to milk at any time of the night (or day, for that matter) can easily lead to cavities and even tooth loss before they are even 2 years old.

This is a bad habit that should not be formed in the first place. Just keep in mind that you only need to get up late at night for your baby’s feedings until they are around 8 months old. After that, they usually sleep straight through the night, as long as they are dry and they are satiated before going to bed.

If your child is already used to this particular setup (going to bed with a bottle) and really needs to have a bottle of juice or milk with them so they can sleep through the night, you should strive to slowly wean them of sugary drinks before bedtime. This can be done by slowly diluting whatever is in the bottle over the span of a few weeks. Reduce the amount of juice or milk and increase the amount of water in their feeding bottle little by little every night, until you get to the point where the only thing you put the bottle is water.

Another thing you should also make sure of is your child’s dental hygiene. It is not enough that you stop giving your kids sugary drinks before bedtime. You also need to ensure that there is no sugary residue on their teeth before they go to sleep.

To make sure that your child is indeed safe from getting childhood cavities, clean their teeth after every meal. Wipe their teeth with a clean, damp piece of cloth, or get them a toothbrush made for babies and brush their teeth gently after they finish a bottle of juice or milk, or after they eat anything that you give them. You should also make sure that they drink water after meals to wash down any possible food or drink residue on their tongue and teeth. These are very simple and easy things to do, and doing these regularly will help keep your baby’s teeth from decaying and cavities from forming.


Dr. Allan Hawryluk
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Dr. Allan Hawryluk

Allan Hawryluk Jr. is a Mississauga-based dentist who has built a reputation for comprehensive dental care. Born and raised in Port Credit, he returned after completing his dental residency in 2003 at the University of Colorado, Denver Health Sciences Center. He feels privileged to serve the community and is committed to maintaining our clinic standards set by his late father - Dr. Allan R. Hawryluk (Sr).