Early Childhood Caries in children 12-24 months old in Mitchell's Plain, South Africa
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (2005/06) defines Early Childhood Caries (ECC) as the presence of 1 or more decayed (noncavitated or cavitated lesions), missing (due to caries), or filled tooth surfaces in any primary tooth in a child 71 months of age or younger. ECC can cause significant problems in preschool children and is a source of considerable societal costs. The South African national oral health survey conducted between the year 1999 and 2002 reported on the caries prevalence in young children. The caries prevalence was 50% in 4-5 year old children with a mean dmft of 2.4 (van Wyk and van Wyk, 2004).The aim of the study is to assess early childhood caries in children 12-24 months in the Mitchell's Plain district of the Western Cape.Objectives are to determine: a) The prevalence and pattern of early childhood caries. b) The relation between early childhood caries and infant feeding practices. c) The relation between early childhood caries and oral hygiene practices of the child.This study is a cross sectional study of ECC of children 12-24 months of age. Parent/child pair attending the Well Baby Clinic at Eastridge/Mitchell's Plain were informed about the study and invited to participate on a voluntary basis. The data collected consisted of a dental examination of 120 children (stratified by age: 60 in 12-18 months age group and 60 in 19-24 months age group) and a questionnaire completed by the accompanying parent/guardian. The dental examination was conducted using the WHO guidelines (Geneva 1997). Child age, tooth status (sound, decayed, filled, extracted, unerupted), and visible dental plaque on maxillary incisors (Spitz et al, 2006) were recorded.The prevalence of ECC for the sample was 23.3% (dmft =0.88). The maxillary incisors had the highest prevalence of decay (14%) followed by the maxillary molars (4%). There was a significant association (p=.006) between duration (12 months and more) of bottle use and presence of caries (40% caries prevalence). There is no significant difference between the different feeding practices (breast, bottle or both) and the presence of caries. There is a high prevalence of Early Childhood Caries (23.3%) in the 12-24 month age group. Early Childhood Caries was related to prolonged (12 months) bottle feeding. The association between the presence of dental plaque and ECC was the most significant factor (p= .000).