My friend got told her two-year-old son had holes in his teeth. Is that possible?

Early childhood caries (ECC) or decay affects about one in 10 children under the age of two. Milk and sugars being in contact with the child mouth/teeth for extended periods of times, particularly over the night time can cause ECC.

Children also have bacteria in their mouths like everyone else. These bacteria thrive by feeding on sugars found in the food and liquid consumed, often producing acid that can attack tooth enamel causing cavities.

Do I stop giving my child milk?

No. It does not mean that you stop breastfeeding, cease the use of a bottle or giving your child milk. Merely being aware of the problem will help to identify any potential issues firstly and consequently institute preventive measures.

What it looks like?

ECC follows a typical pattern wherein it appears near the gum line of the upper front teeth as white or yellow streaks. Because of the sequence of dental development, it tends to almost always affect the upper front teeth and the first baby molars before other teeth being affected.

Will it need to be treated?

Treatment in young children is often challenging and could need general anaesthesia. Prevention is always better than cure! Consequently taking your child to your first dental visit by the age of one or within the first six months of tooth eruption is suggested to help identify such problems early. If recognised, your dentist may be able to recommend measures that may contribute to prevent progression and prolong or avoid invasive (and expensive) options such as general anaesthesia.

My friend’s child got told he had “enamel hyperplasia”. Can this be a cause?

In some children, illnesses and other minor disturbances of development can also affect the development of tooth enamel. Such teeth have a higher chance of developing decay due to a potentially improper structure. A dental exam at the age of one can help to pick up on these problems not only for your child but perhaps your entire family!


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