REVIEW - Early Childhood Caries: Risk and Prevention in Underserved Populations

Early Childhood Caries (ECC) is a chronic and infectious oral disease of young children, most commonly seen in poor and minority populations. Factors such as improper feeding practices, familial socioeconomic background, lack of parental education and dental knowledge, and lack of access to dental care can contribute to and explain why the prevalence of ECC is so great in these select populations. Current research has shown that parents and caretakers have a huge impact on the success of preventative methods and the prevention of ECC altogether. Preventative methods include restorative dental care that focuses on the disease component of ECC, and behavioral and educational programs that advocate individualistic changes so that parents and caretakers can detect and avoid the reoccurrence of caries in their children.