Early childhood caries also known as (Nursing bottle caries, Baby bottle tooth decay, Nursing bottle syndrome or milk bottle syndrome)
Early childhood dental caries is a form of dental decay in infants, toddlers (A toddler is a child between the ages of one and three) and preschool (A child of 3 or 4 is considered a preschooler) children. It can occur as a result of unusual dietary habits. It was recognized that infants who use a nursing bottle containing milk or juice as a pacifier or those who breastfed on demand at times other than normal feeding and through evening often develop early multiple dental caries lesions.
While sleeping flow of saliva is less than usual and swallowing reflex is absent, so milk remains in the oral cavity and pools around the tooth surfaces. Microorganisms which cause dental caries make use of this environment and result in tooth decay. All this process occurs very fast.
Reasons of milk bottle syndrome;
1. Feeding beyond the weaning age, that is beyond 12-15 months.
2. Feeding at night, especially if teeth are not cleaned after feeding.
3. Child neglect in single parent household as the parents are too busy with their responsibilities.
4. Immuno-compromised children are at higher risk due to reduced salivary flow.
5. Children with sleep disorders are also found to be affected by nursing bottle caries.
6. Some mothers avoid breastfeeding feeding; children are left at the mercy of hired help, who think it is their duty to continue force a bottle into child's mouth.
7. When both the parents are working, they leave the children to be careed by young siblings and resultant neglect leads to tooth decay.
Mother's milk is a blessing not a bane "milk is not the culprit, it is the improper feeding habit."
How to prevent ECC (Early Childhood Caries) ??
1. It is important that the mother gets the proper nutrition, stays in good health and avoid medications which are either harmful to her or the baby's teeth. Highly significant effects on dental caries of infants have also been related to pregnancy complications such as instrument delivery or C-section.
2. Infants should not be put to sleep with a bottle.
3. Parents should encourage infants to drink from cup as they approach their first birthday.
4. Consumption of juices, use of pacifiers must be avoided.
5. Oral hygiene should be implemented by the time of eruption of first primary tooth.
What is the Treatment ??
Visit your dentist for proper diagnosis and treatment of this condition. Your dentist may perform restorative procedures for small cavities, other pulpal treatments include indirect pulp capping, direct pulp capping, pulpotomy and pulpectomy.