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Chapter 4: Caries
Introduction
Caries is the medical term for the infectious process that, if untreated, can progress to a
Cavity: An area of decay in a tooth .
cavity. A vast majority of people in the United States have at least 1 cavity by adulthood. In fact, dental caries is the most common chronic disease of childhood, affecting:
 
58.6% of all 5- to 17-year-olds
 
51.6% of elementary school students (5 to 9 years old)
 
77.9% of 17 year-olds
 
84.7% of adults

Dental caries are 5 times more common than asthma (11%) and disproportionately affect poor and minority populations. (View Risk Factors for Early Childhood Caries.) In pediatrics, there is a subset of patients who develop severe caries before 5 years of age. This process is termed Early Childhood Caries, or ECC.


Sections
1.
Etiology and Pathophysiology
2.
Factors in Development
   
Bacteria
   
Sugar
   
Teeth
   
Saliva
3.
What is Early Childhood Caries?
4.
Presentation and Teeth Affected
5.
Diagnosis and Stages
6.
Impact and Effects on Health
7.
Risk Factors in Early Childhood Caries
8.
Prevention of Early Childhood Caries
9.
Key Points
10.
Self-Assessment Questions
 
Upon chapter completion, participants will be able to:
 
1.
Define Caries and Early Childhood Caries (ECC).
 
2.
Name the primary bacteria involved in the caries process.
 
3.
Discuss the contribution of carbohydrate metabolism in caries development.
 
4.
State the important protective benefits of saliva.
 
5.
List risk factors and describe the oral manifestations of ECC.
 
6.
Describe the 5 stages of ECC and identify early lesions on physical exam.
 
7.
Discuss the impact of ECC on overall health and well-being.
 
8.
Recall the 6 major methods of preventing ECC.
View the Chapter 4 Photo Gallery.