Characteristics of children under 6 years of age treated for Early Childhood Caries at Tygerberg Oral Health Centre, South Africa

25 Oct 2012

Objective: This retrospective survey highlighted the characteristics of children less than six years of age presenting with early childhood caries(ECC) who had two or more teeth extracted under intravenous sedation at the Tygerberg Oral Health Centre in Cape Town, South Africa. This survey was carried out in order to plan a community-appropriate intervention strategy. Methods: Records of 140 patients kept by the pediatric Dentistry Division met the inclusion criteria and were included in this survey. Most of the patients originate from economically disadvantaged areas. Results: Diet, feeding and oral hygiene habits were shown to be the most significant factors that contributed to the development of ECC in these patients. All the children were either breast- or bottle-fed past one year of age. 93.6% of the children went to sleep with the bottle or while on the breast and 90% of them were fed on demand during the night. On average, breastfeeding was stopped at 9 months of age compared to bottle-feeding that, on average, was stopped at a much later mean age of 23 months. Where oral hygiene practices were concerned, 52.6% of children brushed their own teeth without supervision. Frequency of brushing varied between subjects. Conclusion: The results of this study have demonstrated that there is a need for culturally appropriate education campaigns to inform parents (especially those in disadvantaged communities) about the importance of oral health and the prevention of oral disease.