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Prevention of Early Childhood Caries
Physicians who care for children need to be aware of and teach the following ECC prevention methods. An in-depth discussion of each measure is reviewed in Chapter 5: Preventive Care.

There are 6 major ways to prevent or delay caries:

Improve oral hygiene. This includes regular brushing and flossing.
Alter feeding/eating practices. This includes less frequent eating and choosing healthier, less sticky snacks. (See Sugar.)
Delay colonization of the teeth. (See Bacteria.)
Ensure adequate fluoride. Fluoride is very effective in the prevention of caries and should be provided both topically (eg, toothpaste, mouthrinse, gel, varnish) and systemically (eg, drinking water or fluoride supplementation). See Chapter 6: Fluoride for more information.
Establish dental care (eg, dental home). Oral health examinations, cleanings, anticipatory guidance, and definitive treatment of existing disease all occur at a dental exam. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that all children have their first dental visit at or around the age of 1. See Chapter 3: Oral Health Screening for AAP referral guidelines.
Dental Sealants. Sealants are applied to the molars of older children and are very effective in preventing caries at the site of the sealant. Refer to Chapter 5: Preventive Care > Dental Sealants for more information.
ECC is a preventable disease.
ECC has a significant effect on overall health.
Physicians can impact ECC with proper anticipatory guidance.
Fluoride should be provided both topically and systemically.

View the Chapter 4 Photo Gallery.