How Dentists can Help Reduce Early Childhood Caries

The Canadian Dental Association (CDA) supports first visit within the first year (or first tooth eruption) as a dental best practice to help reduce early childhood caries ECC.

A child’s first visit by age one is  critical for the early diagnosis and prevention of dental decay, to educate parents and caregivers about dietary habits, instil daily oral hygiene, and stress the importance of regular professional dental care.  

Obtaining and maintaining good health in childhood is an important investment in a healthy population for the future.

The Consequences of Early Childhood Caries

The consequences of untreated ECC can be dire. Pain, difficulty eating and sleeping, speech difficulties and poor self-esteem may occur. Untreated ECC can affect growth and the ability to concentrate and function.

According to a report from the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI), hospital outpatient dental surgery for ECC constituted 31% of all day surgery for children age 1 to 4, making it the leading cause of day surgery for children in this age group.

The quality of life of our youngest and often most vulnerable members of society can be seriously compromised and yet ECC is totally preventable.


Fluoridating municipal drinking water is another important investment for all age groups and particularly children. Scientific evidence continues to support the health promoting effects of fluoridating drinking water which is a cost effective method of preventing dental caries.