Dental caries (decay) is an international public health challenge, especially amongst young children. Early childhood caries (ECC) is a serious public health problem in both developing and industrialized countries. ECC can begin early in life, progresses rapidly in those who are at high risk, and often goes untreated. Its consequences can affect the immediate and long-term quality of life of the child's family and can have significant social and economic consequences beyond the immediate family as well. ECC can be a particularly virulent form of caries, beginning soon after dental eruption, developing on smooth surfaces, progressing rapidly, and having a lasting detrimental impact on the dentition. Children experiencing caries as infants or toddlers have a much greater probability of subsequent caries in both the primary and permanent dentitions. The relationship between breastfeeding and ECC is likely to be complex and confounded by many biological variables, such as mutans streptococci, enamel hypoplasia, intake of sugars, as well as social variables, such as parental education and socioeconomic status, which may affect oral health. Unlike other infectious diseases, tooth decay is not self-limiting. Decayed teeth require professional treatment to remove infection and restore tooth function. In this review, we give detailed information about ECC, from its diagnosis to management.
Keywords: Early childhood caries; etiology; feeding; fluoride.