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Risk Factors for 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 in the past 12 months)
High levels of Strep mutans in parents

Physical Characteristics
Children with special health care conditions (Refer to Chapter 7: Special Needs for more information)
Low birth weight (less than 2500 grams)
Gingivitis: Inflammation of the gums.
Chronic conditions that weaken enamel, promote gingivitis, or cause decreased saliva production
Visible plaque on the teeth

Behavioral Risk Factors
Poor nutritional/feeding habits
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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