Early Childhood Tooth Decay


Even though baby teeth are temporary, they are important, and are still at risk for cavities. Children need strong, healthy teeth to chew their food, speak and have a nice smile. Baby teeth also help the adult teeth come in correctly. It's important to start babies off with good oral care to help protect their teeth for decades to come.

What causes early childhood tooth decay?

The cause of early childhood tooth decay is when liquids high in sugar remain in your child's mouth for a long period of time, and teeth are not cleaned. The germs in the mouth use the sugars to produce acid. Once the acid covers the surfaces of the teeth, it quickly starts causing tooth decay. Never put your child to bed with anything other than water.

What are the effects of early childhood tooth decay?

Your child can suffer from any of the following because of early childhood tooth decay:

  • Pain
  • Trouble eating (leading to poor growth)
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Unable to pay attention in class
  • Unable to speak properly due to missing teeth
  • Crowded adult teeth
  • Poor self-esteem

How do you prevent early childhood tooth decay?

  • Wipe your child's mouth with a clean damp cloth even before teeth appear. Once that first tooth appears use a small soft toothbrush moistened with only water.
  • Adults should help children with tooth brushing up to the age of six or until they can write their name.
  • If your child is three or younger and gets cavities easily, a dental care provider may recommend you use toothpaste with fluoride. If this is the case, only use a small amount (smear).
  • All children over the age of three can start using fluoridated toothpaste but still in very small amounts (size of a pea). They also need to be taught not to swallow it.
  • When your baby has finished feeding, do not allow them to fall asleep with liquids in their mouth as it will cover their teeth.
  • Don't put your child to bed with anything other than water.
  • Once your child has teeth, lift their lips once a month and check the teeth. Look for dull white spots or lines on the teeth. These may be on the necks of the teeth next to the gums. Dark teeth are also a sign of tooth decay.

If you see any signs of tooth decay, go to the dentist right away. Treat early childhood tooth decay quickly. If not, your child may have pain and infection.

For more information or if you are concerned about your child’s teeth, you can call us at 705-474-1400 or 1-800-563-2808 ext. 5328 to book a free dental screening for your child.

North Bay

345 Oak Street West

Parry Sound

70 Joseph Street Unit #302

Burk's Falls

17 Copeland Street (by appointment only)