Childhood Decay

Did you know that as soon as your baby develops their first tooth, they are at risk of dental decay, which is known as Early Childhood Caries (ECC)? The following tips can help prevent ECC in your child:

If your baby has teeth, it’s best to avoid settling them to sleep overnight with a breastfeed or bottle of milk, sweetened flavoured milk, cordial, soft drink or fruit juice. Bacteria feed on the sugar in these drinks and form plaque acids on teeth, which eat into the tooth surface and cause decay.

  • Encourage your baby to learn to drink from a toddler cup from 12 months of age
  • Don’t allow your child to take a bottle of milk or other sugary drinks to bed. When they are older, it is fine to place a glass of water on their bedside table in case they get thirsty overnight
  • If your baby needs to suck on something to settle them to sleep, offer a dummy rather than a bottle
  • If your baby has a breastfeed or bottle of milk before bed, gently wipe down their teeth with a moistened cloth before putting them to sleep
  • Breast and bottle feeding regularly throughout the day or night once a child is over 12 months can contribute to ECC. Speak with your maternal and/or child health care adviser if your baby still needs an overnight feed
  • Avoid giving your baby or toddler frequent snacks – three meals and two snacks per day is ideal to meet dietary needs
  • If your baby suffers from a dry mouth (lack of saliva) and is a mouth breather, they are at greater risk of ECC. Speak with your maternal and/or child health care adviser or dentist if you think your baby may suffer from a dry mouth
  • Good oral hygiene begins at birth. Click on the link below from the Australian Dental Association’s (ADA)website. This is a fact sheet on oral hygiene for babies and toddlers for guidelines on cleaning your baby’s gums and teeth

More information: ADA Oral Hygiene Factsheet