Early Childhood Caries (ECC) is a transmissible infectious process that affects children younger than age 5 and results in tooth destruction. The previous terminology of “baby bottle tooth decay” and “nursing caries” has been replaced with the term ECC because we now understand that the process of caries is independent of the route of feeding.
ECC is a particularly virulent form of caries that rapidly spreads within the mouth and typically results in severe disease. Overall, ECC is found in 24.7% of children in the United States. The disease is concentrated among poor and minority children, with rates as high as 70% in some Hispanic and Native American populations. Thus, 80% of total tooth decay occurs in 25% of our nation's children.