Enamel is a physical barrier to bacterial invasion of the tooth's root. The acid produced by bacteria on the teeth demineralizes the enamel, so when the enamel is weakened or less able to remineralize, a child’s risk for caries is increased.
One risk for the development of caries is
Intensely hard calcareous substance that forms a thin layer partly covering the teeth; the hardest substance of the animal body; consists of minute prisms arranged at right angles to the surface and bound together by a cement substance.
A condition of arrested development in which an organ or part of an organ remains below the normal size or in an immature state.
, which is quite common in children, especially among premature infants. In addition, some chronic conditions can weaken enamel, including Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) and bulimia nervosa. In both of these disorders, gastric acid erodes the enamel.
Children tend to have teeth similar to their parents, primarily because they follow their parents' eating and oral hygiene patterns. Fortunately, the health and strength of the enamel is modifiable by changing such health behaviors. (See Chapter 4: Caries > Prevention
Outside the ECC age range, the vast majority of caries develop on grooved surfaces of teeth, or the pits and fissures of the molars. This is the reason that dental sealants are an effective method of caries prevention. (See Chapter 5: Preventive Care > Dental Sealants