Formally referred to as "Early Childhood Caries" or ECC, the problem is also called baby-bottle decay or nursing-bottle decay, and is by no means rare. A 1996 national health survey found that nearly 40 percent of children aged 2 to 9 years had decay in their baby teeth. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services concluded in their 1997 "Healthy People 2000 Review" that 50 percent of children 6 through 8 years old and two-thirds of all 15 year olds have cavities. The impact of cavities on children is often more far reaching than many parents may think. Early childhood cavities have been shown by research to negatively affect the growth of your child's body, specifically weight and height. It has also been shown to be a major factor in "failure to thrive" or insufficient development in children who have no other medical problems.
Less than half of children who suffer from dental disease such as cavities and even abscessed teeth will complain of pain. When children do complain of pain it usually occurs for brief periods of time. More common is a change in a child's eating or sleeping habits.
There is a solution though. Several studies have shown that rapid treatment of children's dental disease with the benefit of general anaesthesia improves their quality of life and quickly reverses growth deficiencies.
Many dentists tell parents and patients that the cause of the problem is a bad diet, especially giving a child anything but plain water in a baby-bottle at times other than a regular feeding. Many dentists in fact believe that all decay is caused by a simple relationship between poor brushing and poor diet but this is not true. Mainstream science has revealed that tooth decay and especially ECC results from a complicated combination of factors. Many of these factors are genetic and beyond the control of patients and parents. Read more about these factors: