Childhood Caries

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Introduction

Early childhood caries is not only a problem in underdeveloped countries, but in many well-developed countries as well. It is a world-wide problem. There are many influences that could increase the likelihood of early childhood caries. Childhood caries could be influenced by diet, genetics, exposure, and oral hygiene. Caries have no limitations and will affect any child no matter age, gender, or race. This is a significant health issue because children do not understand the importance of oral hygiene and need to be taught by their parents or guardian. However, parents often feel because they are baby teeth and will be lost anyway they are not as important to take care of.

Early Childhood Caries

Early childhood caries (ECC) is defined as having one or more primary teeth with decay, fillings/restorations, or missing due to decay in a child that is 3 years of age or younger. ECC remains the number one chronic disease affecting young children in the United States (cite). Although children who are part of a lower socioeconomical status or racial minority tend to have more severe dental decay it still affects all races and all socioeconomic classes. An article written by Brooke Jackson, DNP, APRN, CPNP (2015) states, despite ECC being largely preventable, it continues to be five times more common than asthma and seven times more common than hay fever in the pediatric population in the United States (p. 543). This is a huge indicator that something needs to be done in order to reduce the likelihood of ECC. Some children may have predispositions to developing caries, but they are largely preventable.

It is recommended a child should have their first dental visit by age one or when their first tooth comes in. Many parents are unaware of when to take their child to see the dentist, but they may regularly take their child in to see their primary health care provider. There is currently a disconnect between oral health care providers and primary health care providers.

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