Early childhood caries: nomenclature and case definition

Community Dent Oral Epidemiol. 1999 Oct;27(5):313-5. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0528.1999.tb02026.x.


A fruitless debate so far has continued to find an ideal name for early childhood caries (ECC), one which could encompass all its risk factors and express the possible seriousness and rampant nature of the problem. It should be simultaneously comprehensible to the dental profession, medical personnel and the general public. However, it is hard to find an example of a multifactorial disease where the name alone indicates its etiology, signs, symptoms, and prevention. It is time for us as a dental profession to accept the responsibility to educate ourselves, our medical colleagues and the public about ECC, and stop hoping that a perfect name for ECC will do the job for us. A similar situation exists regarding the case definition of ECC. To find a single definition of ECC based on number of lesions, teeth involved and age of the affected children is an unrealistic goal. Therefore, a classification of ECC and a case definition for each type is proposed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bottle Feeding
  • Child, Preschool
  • Dental Caries / classification
  • Dental Caries / diagnosis*
  • Humans
  • Risk Factors
  • Terminology as Topic*