Early Childhood Caries (ECC), also referred to as Baby Bottle Tooth Decay (BBTD), is a disease that causes severe and swift decay of baby teeth. It usually begins with the upper front teeth, then moves on to the molars. Unfortunately, by the time most parents notice the decay, it may be too late to do anything about it. That's why it's important to understand the causes of ECC and learn how to prevent it before it even starts. WHAT CAUSES ECC?
The main culprit of ECC is -- surprise -- your baby’s bottle or sippy cup. More specifically, it’s what's in that bottle or cup and how long your baby is exposed to it that is a big part of the problem. Every time you feed your baby sugary or sweet liquids such as milk, formula, fruit juices, even breast milk, they team up with the bacteria in the sticky film called plaque that constantly forms on teeth. Together, they produce acids that attack and dissolve the tooth enamel, causing tooth decay. Obviously, you can't stop feeding nutritious things to your baby - the trick is to regulate when, how and how often you feed them. For instance, don't use a bottle filled with sweet liquids to pacify your baby at nap time, bedtime or for long periods during the day. While this may provide short-term comfort, these liquids end up pooling around your baby's teeth and gums. The longer they linger in your baby's mouth, the greater the likelihood of tooth decay. A good rule of thumb is to always hold your baby during feedings, remove the bottle when your baby falls asleep and remember to wipe off your baby’s teeth or gums with a damp washcloth when feeding is finished. A bottle or sippy cup left with a baby for any period of time should contain only water. Additionally, it is now recognized that mothers, or main caregivers, are the most common source of transmission of decay causing bacteria to their infants. Babies are not born with the bacteria that cause decay. Instead they are “infected” sometime in their early life. Avoid behaviors...
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