Early Childhood Caries and Child’s Age at Initial Dental Exam

When taken for their first dental exam, more than 20% of children need treatment to restore teeth damaged by early childhood caries (cavities). Iflittle girl wi ice cream cone  pain - paid - shutterstock 1888874980 EarlyChildhoodCaries is not treated, it can cause pain and damage to the teeth that affects eating, drinking, and sleeping. The progression of the condition causes more caries and increased need for treatment with each year the child’s first dental visit is delayed.

Dental professionals recommend that all children have their first dental visit after the emergence of their first tooth. Yet most children have reached the age of 3.6 years before their first dental visit. The study included children between the ages of 6 months and 6 years. Of the children aged 2 – 5, 21.4% had caries and 8.8% of them had untreated caries.

Findings: Compared to children first seen at age 1 year, children seen for the first time at age 3 were more than twice as likely to need treatment for caries. At age 4, the likelihood of needing treatment is 4x that of children seen at age 1.

Recommendations: The dental community, primary care physicians, and pediatricians can be more alert for the emergence of the first tooth. The parents should be informed and educated on recommendations for dental hygiene and dental care. If needed, assistance may be provided to those who need to find a dentist.  

Sources: https://www.drbicuspid.com/index.aspx; https://jada.ada.org/article/S0002-8177(21)00344-5/fulltext