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Risk Factors for Early Childhood Caries
The following characteristics can contribute to the development of Early Childhood Caries:

Social/Environmental Characteristics
 
Ethnicity, minority or low socioeconomic status; parents with less
than a high school education.
 
Limited or no dental insurance.
 
Limited or no access to dental care.
 
Inadequate fluoride exposure.
 
Caries in a parent or sibling (especially if caries occurred in the
past 12 months) and high levels of Strep mutans in parents.

Physical Characteristics
 
Children with special health care conditions, such as developmental disabilities or a cleft lip/palate. (Refer to Chapter 7: Special Needs for more information.)
 
Low birth weight (less than 2500 grams).
 
Gingivitis: Inflammation of the gums.
Gingivitis.
 
Chronic conditions that weaken enamel, promote gingivitis, or cause decreased saliva production.
 
Visible plaque on the teeth.
 
Caries in the child, as the presence of even a single
Cavity: An area of decay in a tooth .
cavity in a young child is a strong risk factor for future decay.

Behavioral Risk Factors
 
Poor Nutritional/Feeding Habits. Refer to the section on Sugar for more information.
 
Poor oral hygiene.

 
 
Ethnicity and socioeconomic status can impact a child's likelihood of developing caries.
 
If a parent or sibling has caries, it is likely that the child will have them, too.
 
Children with special health care needs or certain chronic medical conditions have increased risk of developing caries.
 
The presence of even a single cavity in a young child is a strong risk factor for future decay.
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