Best Practice Approach: Early Childhood Caries: Prevention and Management

Early childhood caries (ECC) is the clinical term for tooth decay that affects children younger than age six. It is the most common disease in young children, especially those from socially disadvantaged populations. ECC is the result of poor diet in combination with poor oral hygiene, leading to the transformation of colonizing bacteria into a pathogenic biofilm capable of destroying teeth. 

This report asserts that prevention is more effective in addressing ECC than invasive treatment procedures, such as, improving oral hygiene and oral health literacy of caregivers and engaging public messaging campaigns. The current oral health care delivery and reimbursement systems should expand preventive and treatment services beyond dental offices. Public policy must be flexible to allow medical health professionals and others to use effective therapeutics to prevent, manage, and treat ECC.

Click here to download the report from the Association of State & Territorial Dental Directors (ASTDD).