PACT Spry Menu Pages
Impact and Effects on Health
Along with pain, consider the following negative health effects of Early Childhood Caries (ECC):

 
Difficulty chewing, which may lead to poor weight gain (failure-to-thrive).
 
Difficulty with articulation.
 
Oral infections, such as
Abscess: A localized collection of pus surrounded by inflamed tissue.
abscesses that can spread and lead to cellulitis or fistula formation. (Refer to Chapter 9 > Abscess for more information.)
 
Loss of sleep, difficulty concentrating, and interrupted learning.
 
Destruction and loss of teeth, which can lead to decreased self-esteem and impaired socialization.
 
Damage to permanent teeth, as ECC increases the risk of caries development in permanent teeth.

ECC can also impact a child's education. According to a 1992 study by Helen Gift, et al, approximately 51 million school hours per year are missed due to dental problems, most of which result from caries. More school is missed by poor, Hispanic females without dental insurance than any other children. Missed school for children also translates into missed work and lost wages for caregivers.

The financial burden of repairing severe ECC is enormous. ECC results in increased office, dental, and ER visits, with such costs often far exceeding those of preventive dental care. Several studies have investigated the cost of prevention versus treatment of disease and confirm that it is significantly more expensive to treat caries than to prevent them. It is approximately 10 times more expensive to provide inpatient care for dental caries-related symptoms than to provide that same patient with the recommended periodic preventive care.
 
 
Early childhood caries (ECC) has a significant effect on children's overall health.
 
ECC is a strong predictor of caries development in permanent teeth.
 
Approximately 51 million school hours are missed per year for dental problems, with poor, Hispanic females missing school most often.
 
The financial burden of repairing ECC is enormous, with such costs far exceeding those of preventive dental care.
View the Chapter 4 Photo Gallery.