Early childhood dental caries – which is often referred to as simply “ECC” – is considered a major health concern that is becoming increasingly evident in infants, toddlers, and young children. This is a chronic dental disease that is more evident in children than asthma and hay fever.
According to statistics, approximately 40% of all kids will have some evidence of dental caries by the time that they are five years old. Leaving early childhood caries untreated may result in numerous complications. These include carious lesions, the disruption of productive growth – and, even development – in a child, an immense degree of pain, the need for consistent and very expensive dental treatment, and infections that may prove to be life-threatening.
Throughout this brief guide, you will learn a vast amount of information pertaining to this serious childhood dental health disease.
What is Early Childhood Dental Caries?
ECC is a disease that is marked by the appearance of at least one decayed, missing, or presently-filled surface in any type of primary tooth in a child that is six years of age or younger. Depending on the age and the cause, early childhood dental caries may be referred to as “baby bottle caries”, “nursing caries”, and/or “baby bottle tooth decay”.
While consistent exposure to fluids through the use of a baby bottle is the most common culprit, other culprits may include one or more of the following:
- Poor Diet and Feeding Habits
- Increased Plaque Accumulation
- The Presence of Mutans Streptococci (MS) Bacteria
- Systemic Disease
- The Use of Certain Medications
Prevention of Early Childhood Caries
In order to prevent the onset of early childhood caries, parents must be educated on the risk factors associated with the condition and appropriate steps for intervention should be carried out. First and foremost, all children should visit a pediatric dentist in the six-month timeframe of the presence of the first primary tooth.
All children should have a dentist visit within the first year of life – regardless. The first dentist visit will educate parents on the proper oral hygiene steps, diet information, and the use of fluoride. The prevention of early childhood caries should be a parent’s top priority when it comes to their child’s oral health.