Keep Early Childhood Caries Away
Dentists use the term early childhood caries (ECC), sometimes called baby bottle caries, to describe the presence of one or more decayed, missing or filled teeth in a child younger than six years old. Any sign of tooth decay in a child under the age of three years is considered severe ECC.
The presence of ECC has a major impact on your child’s present and future quality of life. Discomfort, pain, infection, abscesses and gastrointestinal disorders can all result from ECC. It may even lead to malnutrition and retarded growth because of pain, chewing difficulties and reluctance to eat. Other consequences of ECC include crooked teeth, delayed or restricted speech, and loss of space for succeeding teeth. The look of a mouthful of decayed teeth can cause psychological problems, including low self-esteem. And children with ECC have an increased risk of developing cavities in their permanent teeth as well.
How early should you be concerned whether your child is developing ECC? An infant’s first teeth may erupt as early as six months of age, and decay can attack your baby’s teeth as soon as they appear. That’s why the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Dental Association both recommend an initial dental visit by your child’s first birthday.
Unfortunately, many parents delay that first dental appointment until the child is two or three years old. By then, severe ECC may have already set in. A 2006 study published in the journal Pediatric Dentistry presented evidence that children who do not see a dentist before the age of two years are more likely to require emergency visits and tooth restorations. That can get expensive. In fact, children who visit the dentist before their first birthday have 40% lower dental costs between birth and age five. These savings come from less need for dental and medical care resulting from poor oral health.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry has coined a slogan to help parents remember: 1 + 1 = 0. One dental visit when the child has one tooth equals zero cavities. A visit to KiDDS Dental by the time the first baby tooth emerges can be the beginning of a preventive dental care program that will minimize tooth decay and cavities throughout your child’s lifetime.
Call us to schedule an appointment today! 509-891-7070. We’d love to meet you and your family!