Purpose: The purposes of this study were to: (1) determine the prevalence of early childhood caries (ECC) among young children accessing dental services at a community dental clinic; (2) identify factors associated with the presence of ECC; and (3) determine the percentage of children who received treatment for ECC in this setting and the number who required referral to specialists.
Methods: The study population comprised children younger than 72 months attending the clinic between 1991 and 2004. A chart review was conducted.
Results: Eight hundred thirty-four charts met inclusion criteria; 71% had ECC, while the mean deft was 3.7+/-3.9 (SD). The average age at the first visit was 50.0+/-12.7 (SD) months. Those with ECC were significantly older at the first visit (P<.001), and the prevalence increased with family size (P=.011) and number of siblings (P=.019). ECC children were significantly more likely to come from households with lower monthly incomes (P=.033). The prevalence of ECC did not vary according to specific areas in Winnipeg where children resided (P=.20).
Conclusions: Key risk factors for ECC included: (1) the child's sex; (2) low monthly income; (3) whether the child resided with both parents; and (4) a history of foiled dental visits. These data may assist in identifying children at greatest risk for ECC and may help public health agencies develop appropriate prevention strategies, including promoting early dental visits for infants.