Early Childhood Care

Silver Spring, Maryland

Early Childhood Dental Care

Early childhood caries, or ECC, is one of the most prevalent yet preventable childhood diseases in children under age six. Neglecting to care for those pearly whites right from the start can impact your child’s future oral health. At My Kids Dental Center, we offer early childhood care and guidance for every step of your child's dental development, so you never have to go through it alone!

How We Help You and Your Child Feel Right at Home

My Kids Dental Center is more than a pediatric dentistry practice. It is a safe and happy place that we hope you and your child will come to love. We've considered every detail and worked hard to create an exciting and enjoyable space for your little one. From our seamless transitions to our beautiful office and cutting-edge, compassionate care, expect a one-of-its-kind pediatric dentistry experience!

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Why Care for Baby Teeth?

Even though your child's baby teeth will eventually fall out, their health matters. These tiny pearly whites maintain the space needed for the permanent teeth to come in correctly, help with proper speech development, and make it easier to chew and eat. The premature loss of a baby tooth can result in the neighboring teeth shifting out of alignment, often leading to crooked adult teeth and the need for orthodontic treatment down the road.

What Is Early Childhood Caries (ECC)?

Early childhood caries refers to tooth decay and cavities in children under age six. The first signs of ECC are white spots near the gum line. If not treated, the condition may progress to brown spots, holes, or even broken teeth. Prevention is the best way to keep tooth decay and cavities at bay to maintain your child's optimal dental health.

How Does Early Childhood Caries Develop?

ECC is a preventable dental concern that typically develops from frequent, prolonged exposure of a child's teeth to foods and liquids high in sugar, such as milk and juice. Cavity-causing bacteria feed on these sugars, producing acids that erode your baby's teeth over time. Factors increasing the risk of ECC include poor oral hygiene, the frequency of feeding, and inadequate fluoride exposure.

What Happens If You Don't Treat Early Childhood Caries?

Untreated cavities can progress and lead to various complications, including the following:

  • Pain and tooth sensitivity: As tooth decay progresses, it can lead to tooth pain and sensitivity, interfering with eating and sleep. 
  • Premature tooth loss: ECC can damage a child's tooth, leading to premature tooth loss, which in turn can result in crooked teeth, problems with the bite, difficulty eating, trouble speaking clearly, and aesthetic concerns.
  • Severe infections: Dental decay can progress and result in a painful infection of the tooth pulp and, in some cases, can spread to other parts of the body, leading to health complications.  

How Can You Prevent ECC?

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children who use a bottle after 15 months of age or those who consume sweet or starchy snacks more than three times a day are at a higher risk of developing ECC. That's why it's essential to maintain a healthy, balanced diet and limit sugary snacks and drinks. Refrain from putting your child to bed with a bottle of milk or juice and encourage drinking from a sippy cup by the first birthday. 

Clean your baby's gums with a soft toothbrush or a soft cloth and water starting at birth. When the teeth come in, brush them gently with a smear of toothpaste no larger than a grain of rice until age 3. From ages 3 to 6, teach your child to brush using a soft-bristled brush and a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. Make sure you talk to your child's pediatric dentist before using any fluoride products.  

Start seeing a pediatric dentist for routine dental checkups and cleanings as soon as the first tooth appears and no later than the first birthday. Dr. Cargill and her team will work with you to maintain healthy teeth and gums and cavity-free smiles.

Early Childhood Dental Care Near Me

Visit My Kids Dental Center to learn more about taking care of your child's teeth right from the start to prevent cavities from developing or progressing. Dr. Cargill looks forward to supporting your child’s oral health every step of the way. We invite you to contact our Silver Spring office to schedule your child's dental appointment or request one online today!