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Risk Factors for Early Childhood Caries
Social/Environmental Characteristics
 
Ethnicity, minority or low socioeconomic status
 
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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)
 
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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.
Gingivitis
 
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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