There is an epidemic now worldwide for what is called early childhood caries or ECC, and this epidemic is not related to socioeconomic class or the age of the child as we can see this disease in very young children even with the appearance of the first tooth.
Although childhood teeth are replaced by the permanent teeth as part of maturity process but any problem or premature loss of these teeth may affect the health of our children.
Two main risk factors are responsible for this disease:
- Poor oral hygiene: this is the main risk factor for having early dental caries as this enhance the environment for the bacteria (mutansstreptocochi).
Primary Acquisition of the bacteria mostly occurs by direct transmission through intimate contact mostly from primary care giver or by sharing utensils (spoons, forks) and upon finding appropriate environment that allows low PH the bacteria will colonize and start doing small holes in the teeth that later enlarge to become caries.
- Poor dietary and feeding habits: repeated exposure to sweets and sugary carbohydrates allow low PH in the oral cavity that increase the risk of bacterial colonization especially at late night and before sleeping as the rate of salivary secretions normally decreases.
Consequences of ECC:
Early childhood caries may lead to many serious health issues:
PREVENTION OF ECC:
Dental disease can impact the total well-being of a child and is largely preventable; thus, a healthy mouth with a full dentition should be the goal for each and every child.
The major tool of prevention is avoiding risk factors by good oral hygiene and proper feeding habits, also all experts stated that Prevention is best accomplished by the timely identification of risk factors and appropriate intervention. The Canadian Dental Association advocates that the first dental visit occur within six months of the eruption of the first primary tooth and nolater than twelve months of age. The purpose of this early visit is to assess the risk of dental disease, initiate a preventive program and provide anticipatory guidance on issues concerning diet, oral hygiene and fluoride use.
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