In a recent study published in The Journal of Clinical Pediatric Dentistry, clinicians and researchers teamed together to study bacterial, behavioral and environmental factors associated with Early Childhood Caries (ECC or baby bottle tooth decay). They found that ECC is a preventable condition characterized by decay of primary (baby) teeth which may begin as an infants teeth erupt, long before her first year. What is also significant is that the two-year-old was probably infected by her own mothers mouth bacteria due to lack of dental health care in underserved and poor communities, the study found.
ECC is five times more common than asthma and seven times more common than hay fever, but researchers are just beginning to understand its complexity.
In the UCSF study, researchers assessed salivary levels of the bacteria mutans streptococci (MS) and lactobacilli (LB) in underserved, predominantly Hispanic children. One hundred forty-six infants and toddlers aged three to 55 months with dental decay were identified and examined. The study demonstrated significant association between relatively low cariogenic bacterial levels and dental caries in infants and toddlers. The same bacteria strain (MS or LB) of the mother or caretaker was found in the infants and toddlers. The study also showed that ECC correlates significantly with the childs age and lack of dental insurance of the children and that ECC also correlates with both low family income and the less education of the mother of the child.
Francisco Ramos-Gomez, DDS, MSc, MPH, UCSF associate professor of pediatric dentistry in the department of growth and development and director of the Pediatric Dental S
Contact: Twink Stern
University of California - San Francisco