The Journal of Contemporary Dental Practice

Register      Login



Volume / Issue

Online First

Related articles

VOLUME 18 , ISSUE 8 ( August, 2017 ) > List of Articles


Early Childhood Caries: A Review

Abdulfatah Alazmah

Citation Information : Alazmah A. Early Childhood Caries: A Review. J Contemp Dent Pract 2017; 18 (8):732-737.

DOI: 10.5005/jp-journals-10024-2116

Published Online: 01-12-2017

Copyright Statement:  Copyright © 2017; The Author(s).



To review and update the current knowledge about early childhood caries (ECC) and its etiology, prevalence, risk factors, management, and preventive strategies.


Early childhood caries is a disease affecting significantly both well-developed and industrial nations. The ECC can significantly affect the child's quality of life, as it may lead to infection, swelling, pain, and other symptoms. The ECC affects children after eruption of primary teeth until age of around 5 years.

Review results

The ECC affects all parts of the tooth including the smooth surface. Upper anterior teeth and primary molars are usually affected. The lower anterior teeth are less likely affected. The risk factors for ECC are diet, bacteria, and host susceptibility. The additional factors, such as presence of enamel defect and the feeding practices also contribute to the initiation and progress of ECC.


Dentists must focus on utilizing existing techniques to distinguish indications of right on time and propelled caries and give guidance on the best way to counteract and control caries in children. Approaches should be directed to preventive caries control strategies among children.

Clinical significance

Preventing and controlling the development of ECC among children is important to maintain effective eating, speech development, and formation of a positive self-image.

How to cite this article

Alazmah A. Early Childhood Caries: A Review. J Contemp Dent Pract 2017;18(8):732-737.

PDF Share
  1. ; Kidd, E. Dental caries: the disease and its clinical management. Hoboken (NJ): John Wiley & Sons; 2009.
  2. Dental caries status of preschool children in Hong Kong. Br Dent J 1999 Dec;187(11):616-620.
  3. Caries experience and background factors in 4-year-old children: time trends 1967-2002. Caries Res 2004 Mar-Apr;38(2):149-155.
  4. The global increase in dental caries. A pending public health crisis. Am J Dent 2009 Feb;22(1):3-8.
  5. Introduction to the Early Childhood Caries Conference: initial description and current understanding. Community Dent Oral Epidemiol 1998 Oct;26(1 Suppl):5-7.
  6. Prolonged nursing habit: a profile of patients and their families. ASDC J Dent Child 1980 Mar-Apr;47(2):102-108.
  7. A systematic review of clinical diagnostic criteria of early childhood caries. J Public Health Dent 1999 Summer;59(3):171-191.
  8. Caregiver knowledge and attitudes of preschool oral health and early childhood caries (ECC). Int J Circumpolar Health 2007 Apr;66(2):153-167.
  9. Diagnosing and reporting early childhood caries for research purposes. A report of a workshop sponsored by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, the Health Resources and Services Administration, and the Health Care Financing Administration. J Public Health Dent 1999 Summer;59(3):192-197.
  10. Definition of early childhood caries (ECC). Reference Manual 2005-2006,2007.
  11. Early childhood dental disease – what's in a name? J Can Dent Assoc 2007 Dec;73(10):929-930.
  12. Risk factors for dental caries in young children: a systematic review of the literature. Community Dent Health 2004 Mar;21(Suppl 1):71-85.
  13. Description and epidemiology of nursing caries. J Public Health Dent 1996 Winter;56(1):38-50.
  14. Trends in oral health status: United States, 1988-1994 and 1999-2004. Vital Health Stat 11 2007 Apr;(248):1-92.
  15. Surveillance for dental caries, dental sealants, tooth retention, edentulism, and enamel fluorosis╌United States, 1988-1994 and 1999-2002. MMWR Surveill Summ 2005 Aug;54(3):1-44.
  16. ; Eklund, SA. Dentistry, dental practice, and the community. St. Louis (MO): Elsevier Health Sciences; 2005.
  17. Early childhood caries in northern Philippines. Community Dent Oral Epidemiol 2003 Apr;31(2):81-89.
  18. A longitudinal study of early childhood caries in 9- to 18-month-old Thai infants. Community Dent Oral Epidemiol 2006 Dec;34(6):429-436.
  19. Caries patterns in an urban preschool population in Norway. Eur J Paediatr Dent 2005 Mar;6(1):16-22.
  20. Early childhood caries. Int J Dent 2011 Oct;2011:725320.
  21. Causes, treatment and prevention of early childhood caries: a microbiologic perspective. J Can Dent Assoc 2003 May;69(5):304-307.
  22. Early childhood caries–a synopsis. Community Dent Oral Epidemiol 1998 Oct;26(1 Suppl):106-116.
  23. Hypoplasia-associated severe early childhood caries╌a proposed definition. J Dent Res 2012 Jun;91(6):544-550.
  24. Role of micro-organisms in caries etiology. J Dent Res 1994 Mar;73(3):672-681.
  25. Initial acquisition of mutans streptococci by infants: evidence for a discrete window of infectivity. J Dent Res 1993 Jan;72(1):37-45.
  26. A longitudinal study of Streptococcus mutans colonization in infants after tooth eruption. J Dent Res 2003 Jul;82(7):504-508.
  27. Mode of delivery and other maternal factors influence the acquisition of Streptococcus mutans in infants. J Dent Res 2005 Sep;84(9):806-811.
  28. Breastfeeding and the risk of early childhood caries. Evid Based Dent 2008 Feb;9(3):86-88.
  29. Cariogenic potential of milk and infant formulas: a systematic review. Eur Arch Paediatr Dent 2013 Oct;14(5):289-300.
  30. Diet, nutrition and the prevention of chronic diseases – Introduction. World Health Organ Tech Rep Ser 2003;916(i-viii):1-149.
  31. Sugars – the arch criminal? Caries Res 2004 May-Jun;38(3):277-285.
  32. An ecological study on the association of public dental health activities and sociodemographic characteristics with caries prevalence in Japanese 3-year-old children. Caries Res 2006 Oct;40(6):466-472.
  33. Bacterial, behavioral and environmental factors associated with early childhood caries. J Clin Pediatr Dent 2002 Winter;26(2):165-173.
  34. Changes in dental caries 1953-2003. Caries Res 2004 May-Jun;38(3):173-181.
  35. Dental caries, oral health, and pediatricians. Curr Probl Pediatr Adolesc Health Care 2003 Sep;33(8):253-270.
  36. Dental caries experience: a two-generation study. J Dent Res 2005 Oct;84(10):931-936.
  37. Association between children's experience of socioeconomic disadvantage and adult health: a life-course study. Lancet 2002 Nov;360(9346):1640-1645.
  38. Rampant early childhood dental decay: an example from Italy. J Public Health Dent 2000 Sep;60(3):159-166.
  39. Assessment, management, and prevention of early childhood caries. J Am Acad Nurse Pract 2009 Jan;21(1):1-10.
  40. ; Fields, HW Jr.; McTigue, DJ.; Nowak, A. Pediatric dentistry: infancy through adolescence. St. Louis (MO): Elsevier Health Sciences; 2013.
  41. Preschool caries as an indicator of future caries: a longitudinal study. Pediatr Dent 2003 Mar-Apr;25(2):114-118.
  42. Malnourishment in a population of young children with severe early childhood caries. Pediatr Dent 2006 May-Jun;28(3):254-259.
  43. Policy on early childhood caries (ECC): classifications, consequences, and preventive strategies. Pediatric Dent 2005 Nov;27(Suppl 7):31-33.
  44. Clinical outcomes for early childhood caries: influence of aggressive dental surgery. J Dent Child (Chic) 2004 May-Jun;71(2):114-117.
  45. Are we ready to move from operative to non-operative/preventive treatment of dental caries in clinical practice? Caries Res 2004 May-Jun;38(3):294-304.
  46. Visual and visuo-tactile detection of dental caries. J Dent Res 2004 Jun;83 Spec No C:C56-C66.
  47. International Consensus Workshop on Caries Clinical Trials (ICW-CCT)–final consensus statements: agreeing where the evidence leads. J Dent Res 2004 Feb;83 Spec No C:C125-C128.
  48. Response to Reisine & Douglass: psychosocial and behavioral issues in early childhood caries. Community Dent Oral Epidemiol 1998 Oct;26(1 Suppl):45-48.
  49. Early childhood caries: risk-based disease prevention and management. Dent Clin North Am 2013 Jan;57(1):1-16.
  50. Concepts in dental public health. Pitman (NJ): Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2010.
  51. Reasons for the caries decline: what do the experts believe? Eur J Oral Sci 1996 Aug;104(4 (Pt 2)):416-422; discussion 423-425, 430-432.
  52. Evidence-based effectiveness of topical fluorides. Adv Dent Res 2008 Jul;20(1):3-7.
  53. The continuum of dental caries–evidence for a dynamic disease process. J Dent Res 2004 Jul;83 Spec No C:C39-C42.
  54. Recent changes in dental caries. Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1985 Nov;291(6505):1297-1298.
  55. Early childhood caries update: a review of causes, diagnoses, and treatments. J Nat Sci Biol Med 2013 Jan-Jun;4(1):29-38.
PDF Share
PDF Share

© Jaypee Brothers Medical Publishers (P) LTD.