Baby teeth are important. If baby teeth are lost too early, the teeth that are left may move and not leave any room for adult teeth to come in. Also, if tooth decay is not prevented, it can be costly to treat, cause pain, and lead to life-threatening infections.

Tooth decay (called early childhood caries) is the most common chronic infectious disease of childhood. Tooth decay may also be called nursing caries or baby bottle tooth decay.

Healthy dental habits should begin early because tooth decay can develop as soon as the first tooth comes in. Here is information for parents and caregivers from the American Academy of Pediatrics about causes of tooth decay, signs of tooth decay, and how to prevent tooth decay.

Tooth decay develops when a baby’s mouth is infected by acid-producing bacteria. Parents and caregivers can pass bacteria to babies through saliva. For example,...

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