Early Childhood Caries is a Progressive, Infectious Disease that is about more than just “Baby” Teeth



Leonard Smith
Pediatrics, Cumming School of Medicine , U of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Founder, The Foundation For A Healthy Mouth Healthy Child, Phoenix, Arizona, USA
Founder, The Society For A Healthy Mouth Healthy Child(Alberta), Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Founder, The Society For A Healthy Mouth Healthy Child (Alberta), Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Not For Profit, The Foundation For A Healthy Mouth Healthy Child, Phoenix, Arizona, USA

It is imperative that the oral health Profession begin to teach all of the other Professionals who interact with children and their parents /caregivers that EARLY CHILDHOOD CARIES is a progressive ,infectious disease that is ABOUT MORE THAN JUST BABY TEETH!

The mouth is the gateway to a child`s body and if the mouth is not healthy then there is a high probability that the rest of the body will not be healthy!

Children suffering from untreated early childhood caries are children who have a high probability of being sleep deprived, malnourished, thinking that tooth pain is a normal state, potentially living in an environment of a dysfunctional family where domestic violence is occurring and putting the child at risk being injured by being shaken.

These children are neglected and /or abused and have an increased probability of having negative impacts on their neurodevelopment, on their micro biome, on their overall immune system development, on their liver health and may have a higher probability of developing serious addictive behaviors .

The economic impact of this disease to the family and to Society are not clearly understood nor appreciated in the short term but also in the long term.

Should the child develop systemic diseases ,addictions, etc. there is a high probability of incurring significant expenses and given the high incidence of early childhood caries globally these could have a serious impact on health care budgets.

After nearly 50 years as a pediatric oral health care provider ,it has become clear to me that we as a Profession must teach all other Professionals who interact with children and their families about the importance of the primary dentition and get rid of the attitude the they are only "baby teeth " so why bother with them .

Further , we must teach all oral health providers that a child`s first oral health examination should occur at 6 months of age but no later than 12 months of age .

The old recommendation that a child not be seen until they are 24 -36 months of age is not effective in controlling the incidence of this disease and may be considered malpractice!

We must work diligently with physicians and have them assess and teach prevention regarding the oral health of the children they examine during well baby visits !

The mind map poster presents this information in a diagrammatic representation which has proven to be very effective in its positive impact to the various audiences where it has been shown.

Leonard Smith