These 4 Avoidable Mistakes That Can Prevent Cavities In Kids Written By: Dr. Ankita Shah, March 2020

Early Childhood Caries

In developing countries like India 33-80 % of kids aged 2-5 yrs suffer from a disease called as Early Childhood Caries often referred as ECC which starts off as early as the teeth appear. Every parent desires their child to have a cavity-free childhood. We have listed down these 4 simple mistakes that can be avoided to save millions of kids from acquiring cavities.


Prolonged breastfeeding and night feeding after the teeth erupt are associated with an increased risk of cavities in children. Cavities are mainly caused due to pooling of milk in the baby’s mouth. Infants who are exclusively breastfed i.e. no weaning with any formula milk or sweet foods are not prone to decay. Thus the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding till the first year of a baby’s life. But when breastfeeding and sugary foods or drinks are combined i.e. during the weaning phase, there is an increased risk of cavity development. Bits of sugar from food, juices or formula milk remain in the mouth due to lack of proper brushing and rinsing of the mouth. When these children are breastfed, this sugar mixes with breast milk increasing the risk of tooth decay.


Baby bottles and sippy cups used at bedtime increases the chance of acquiring cavities. The pooling of milk and other liquids in the mouth increases the time of contact between the acid produced and the teeth. Even diluted juices contain sufficient amount of sugar for the bacteria to produce acids which is a significant contributor to early decay. Prolonged use also affects the shape of the jaws and teeth. The common changes that are seen in the mouth include the front teeth not meeting when the mouth is closed and the back teeth close in a crossbite.


In today’s time and age when kids are juggling between schools to sports training to dance lessons to homework; as a working parent, it can be quiet tempting to give your children ready to eat snacks. But sometimes these snacks are highly sticky and contain a lot of sugar, which can lead to cavities. Decay causing bacteria like Streptococcus mutans cause cavities. These bacteria use food sugars to produce acid – this acid directly causes the decay. Everyone has different types and numbers of these bacteria in their mouth. Hence some people who are blessed with lesser amounts of Streptococcus mutans in their mouth might still be able to eat a lot of sugary food and still not get cavities. However, you can give your child tooth friendly, healthy and tasty snacks that can always be stocked up at home for kids to grab a quick snack.


As we all know “Prevention is better than cure," it is best to visit a pediatric dentist as soon as the first tooth erupts or no later than your child's first birthday. To ensure an optimal oral health environment one should initiate oral care right from infancy. Also, most parents do a fantastic job of teaching their kids to brush their teeth but they fail to inculcate the habit of flossing


Clean the gum pads with a washcloth dipped in warm water.

Always brush your teeth twice daily especially before bedtime. Avoid any feeds at night after brushing. If mid night feeds continue after teeth have erupted, then make sure to clean the teeth after the feed.

It’s best to make your child gargle their mouth after every meal to avoid any sticking of food particles.

Start fluoride varnish applications by the age of 2yrs to prevent cavities.

Even though 80% of parents say they know these basic tips to avoid cavities in their children, a surprising number of parents still do not follow it on a regular basis.

"It's better to start early than to chase the cure."

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Keywords : oral health care, early childhood caries, pediatric dentist, prevention