Early Childhood Caries (ECC) – (Tooth Decay)

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What is ECC?

If your child goes to bed with a bottle of juice, milk, or formula, there is a chance that their teeth can decay. That's called Early Childhood Caries (ECC). It can be very painful and sometimes surgery is needed to fix the harm caused by ECC. If you have tooth decay or gum disease, or if anyone who cares for your child has these problems, they could pass tooth decay causing germs to your child's mouth and teeth.

How can I keep my baby safe from ECC?

  • Keep your own teeth and mouth healthy, and your family's, too.
  • Wipe your baby's gums and teeth with a soft damp cloth after feeding and before bedtime and naptime.
  • Don't let your child take formula, milk, juice, sugar-water, or food to bed. 
  • If your child must take a bottle to bed, fill it only with water. Water can't harm his teeth the way other drinks and food can.

If my baby loves the bottle, how can I take it away?

Try these ideas to make it a little easier:

  • Use a plain-looking bottle for feeding.
  • Your child can learn to prefer a bright, pretty cup to the bottle.
  • Try to spend a few minutes of quiet time with your child before bedtime.

You and your dentist: partners to protect your child

Gently lift your child's upper lip and look for white spots or dark spots on teeth. If you see white or dark spots, schedule an appointment with your child's dentist right away!

If your child does not have a dentist, ask your doctor for the name of a dentist who will see young children.

If your child has Medicaid, call Texas Health Steps at 1-877-847-8377 (1-877-THSTEPS), Monday to Friday. If your child does not have Medicaid call 2-1-1 about finding a dentist. If you have dental insurance for your child, call your insurance company.

Last updated July 27, 2015