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What is ECC?

Early Childhood Caries (ECC) is a chronic disease that destroys tooth structure leading to loss of chewing function, pain, and infection in children through five years of age. 

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FACT: Children visit their pediatrician more often than they visit their dentist.

0 %

of children ages 3 to 19 had lifetime tooth decay in their primary or permanent teeth.1


The prevalence of dental caries for the youngest of children has not decreased over the past decade, despite improvements for older children.

The USPSTF recommends that primary care clinicians apply fluoride varnish to the primary teeth of all infants and children starting at the age of primary tooth eruption.

And it’s so easy; a few swipes across tooth surfaces and you’re done, in less than a minute!

ECC is Preventable!

If you haven’t yet begun, Centrix is here to help! With educational Lunch & Learn courses, virtual or in-office, following the guidelines of the AAP and the ADA, the application of fluoride varnish on your young patients will soon be your standard of practice, too. Need more information about courses or products? Complete this short form and we will call you to help – at your convenience.

ECC is the most common chronic childhood disease and has many potentially severe consequences.


  • Pain
  • Impaired chewing and nutrition
  • Infection
  • Increased caries in permanent dentition
  • School/work absences
  • Students with dental pain are three times more likely to have poorer school performance
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Poor self-esteem
  • Extensive and expensive dental work which often must be completed under general anesthesia

Dental Caries Rates of Infection

23% in Primary Teeth - Ages 2-5
17% in Permanent Teeth - Ages 6-11
57% Adolescents - Ages 12-19
up to 70% of Native American children

* Rates from 2011-2016

Early Childhood Caries (ECC)

It is defined as >1 decayed, missing, or filled primary tooth surface in children less than 6 years of age. It effects 23% of children ages 2-5 years, 17% of permanent teeth ages 6-11 and up to 57% adolescents ages 12-19. ECC was once called “nursing caries” or “baby bottle tooth decay”, which greatly downplays the health, social and economic harms of this wide-spread disease.

In addition to twice-daily brushing with fluoridated toothpaste for all children, professionally-applied 5% fluoride varnish treatments are highly effective in reducing the prevalence of ECC. Evidence increasingly suggests that preventive interventions within the first year of life are critical. This may be best implemented by medical providers who often see young children long before they see a dentist.

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