Early Childhood Caries

ECC is a chronic transmissible infectious disease! What does this mean? It means that certain bacteria in the mouth break down the sugar we eat into acid. Over time this acid breaks down the tooth surface and causes an infection in the tooth. It’s transmissible, meaning that we can actually transfer these bad bacteria to each other!
What can you do to reduce your child’s risk?

  • Avoid putting your baby to bed with milk or juice in a bottle.
  • Parents are encouraged to wean infants from the bottle between 12-18 months. Also encourage the child to drink from a cup around their first birthday.
  • Limit sugary snacks and try to have them at meal times. Do not place juices in sippy-cups where the child has access to the sugary drink all day long.
  • Mothers/Caregivers can transmit these harmful bacteria to their child. Make sure moms/caregivers are up-to-date with their oral hygiene as well.
  • Eliminate saliva-sharing activities ie. sharing utensils, orally cleaning pacifiers, even kissing your baby on his/her mouth.
  • Newly erupted teeth are not as strong as adult teeth, so make sure you are brushing your child’s teeth twice a day with a fluoridated tooth paste for children.
  • Visit your Paediatric dentist no later than 12 months of age to establish a dental home!

Only water in the sippy cup at bed time

Tooth Brushing

Start early! The earlier a parent starts to wipe the gum pads or brush their child’s teeth, the more familiar the child will become with the daily routine. Not to mention they will have great oral hygiene habits and great dental check-ups!
Children need help when brushing, which means parents need to help! As your child grows, they will want to be more independent, so let them brush first, and you follow. 
Use a tooth brush with a small head and soft bristles. A smear of fluoridated tooth paste twice a day for children under the age of 2 and a pea size amount for ages 2-5 yrs is recommended. Always supervise your child when brushing their teeth.

Dr. Sarah Pannozzo - Tooth Brush


Flossing, Fluoride

When spaces between primary teeth close, the spaces are too small for the benefits of the tooth brush and tooth paste. Brushing alone will not prevent cavities from forming. At your consultation or hygiene visit we will discuss the importance of flossing! Flossing is critical to prevent cavities that form between your child’s teeth. 

Fluoride is a safe and effective adjunct in reducing the risk of cavities and reversing enamel demineralization. Professional topical fluoride treatments should be based on caries risk assessment. Children with moderate risk should ideally receive a fluoride treatment every 6 mo. High caries risk children may benefit from a topical application every 3-6 months.

Most communities incorporate optimal fluoride levels in the drinking water. If you are in a community without fluoride or are using well-water that has little or no fluoride, systemic fluoride can be achieved through the intake of daily fluoride supplements. BEFORE any supplements are prescribed, it is important to review all dietary sources of fluoride to determine if supplements are necessary or not. 


Sealant is a material that is flowed into the pits and fissures of the tooth that are susceptible to cavities. Pit and fissure cavities make up 80-90% of all the cavities on permanent molars and 44% on primary molars. As a preventive measure, when your child’s 6 year molars and 12 year molars are fully erupted we may recommend sealants on these teeth. Once sealants are placed they will be routinely checked at every 6 month recall visit to ensure they are intact.


Thumb and pacifier habits are natural for young infants and most habits end on their own. However, if the child continues the habit beyond the age of 3, orthodontic problems may occur in the future. Examples include flared front teeth or a very narrow palate. If you have any concerns, consult your Paediatric dentist.
Some ways to break the habit at home

  1. Rewards!  Try a calendar! Your child must go the full 30 days without sucking his/her thumb. If this is achieved, they have earned a special reward.
  2. Motivate! Show pictures of what teeth can look like after a long standing habit.
  3. Try and avoid breaking the habit if there are many stresses in the house hold.
  4. Most of all, the child must be ready and willing to stop the habit.


Tooth Eruption

The first primary teeth to expect in the mouth are the two bottom front teeth around 6-10 months of age. Next to follow are usually the upper four front teeth. The primary dentition will be fully present when your child is around 3 years old. Do not be alarmed if some teeth erupt out of sequence, every child is different. 

Teething can cause on and off discomfort in the area of the erupting tooth. It can also cause irritability and increased saliva. Oral analgesics or a chilled teething ring can help alleviate the discomfort. The use of teething gels or topical anesthetics to relieve discomfort are discouraged due to possible toxicity to your baby.

Why a Paediatric Dentist

A Paediatric dentist specializes in dentistry for children. They have received two to three years of specialty training after dental school and dedicate their practice to children and adolescence, as well as children with special health care needs. 

By visiting your pediatric dentist around your child’s first birthday, we are able to educate parents on oral care for their infant as well as inform them of important developmental milestones as their child grows. We want to create a dental home where your child will learn about oral health and ways to prevent dental disease. Our goal is to teach your child how to be a great dental patient. We hope to create enjoyable dental visits which will instill great oral health for a lifetime.