Preventive Strategies

IDA recognizes that infant oral health is one of the foundations upon which preventive education and dental care must be built to enhance the opportunity for a lifetime free from preventable oral disease.

  • Early childhood caries (ECC) and the more severe form of ECC (S- ECC) can be particularly virulent forms of caries, beginning soon after tooth eruption, developing on smooth surfaces, progressing rapidly and having a lasting detrimental impact on the dentition.
  • This disease affects the general population but is more likely to occur in infants who are of low socioeconomic status, who consume a diet high in sugar, and whose mothers have a low education level.
  • Caries in primary teeth can affect children’s growth, result in significant pain and potentially life-threatening infection, and diminish overall quality of life.
  • Dental caries is a common chronic infectious transmissible disease resulting from tooth- adherent specific bacteria, primarily mutans streptococci (MS), that metabolize sugars to produce acid which, over time, demineralizes tooth structure. MS colonization of an infant may occur from the time of birth.
  • Vertical transmission of MS from mother to infant has been observed. Therefore the higher the levels of maternal salivary MS, the greater the risk of the infant being infected. Along with salivary levels of MS, mother’s oral hygiene, periodontal disease, snack frequency, and socioeconomic status also are associated with infant colonization.

Dental caries is a disease that generally is preventable. Early risk assessment allows for identification of child who are at risk for ECC and would benefit from early preventive intervention. The ultimate goal of early assessment is the timely delivery of educational information to populations at high risk for developing caries in order to prevent the need for later surgical intervention.