Early Childhood Tooth Decay


Your baby’s teeth are important for chewing and speaking. Keeping your baby’s mouth clean will help prevent dental caries (tooth decay). Tooth decay is serious at any age and may lead to pain, infection, difficulty eating, and/or speech problems.

What causes tooth decay in babies?

Everyone has bacteria living in their mouth. Bacteria takes the sugar from foods and drinks to create plaque. When teeth are not cleaned daily, plaque builds up, and this can cause tooth decay.


  • Clean your baby’s gums with a washcloth, and teeth with a soft toothbrush daily. The last thing used in your child’s mouth before bed should be a toothbrush or a soft cloth.
  • Breastfeeding promotes good oral health and jaw formation.
  • From birth to six months of age, breast milk or iron-fortified infant formula is the only food or drink your baby needs.
  • Breast milk and iron-fortified formula are the only liquids that should be in your baby’s bottle.
  • Starting at six months, use an open cup when offering fluids other than breast milk. At first, your baby will need help with the cup.
  • Sweet drinks such as pop, juice and sweetened tea should never be offered in a bottle.
  • Your baby should never sleep with a baby bottle.
  • Lead by example! Keep your own mouth clean and healthy with regular brushing and flossing. This can help prevent the spread of decay-causing germs to your baby. Dental caries is an infectious disease that can be passed from parent to child.