What is ECC?
Tooth decay in children under the age of 6 is termed as Early Childhood Caries (ECC). In Singapore, 40% of preschool children are affected by ECC.
Tooth decay does not happen overnight. It begins as White Spot Lesions (WSL) which appear as chalky areas on the tooth surface, often found under plaque. The acids in plaque remove tooth minerals, so WSL indicate demineralisation of the tooth surface. They are painless and still reversible at this stage. However, as demineralisation progresses, the tooth surface breaks down to form a cavity.
Tooth decay varies in severity. Overtime, bacteria and acids wear away the enamel (outermost layer of tooth) to reach the dentine (inner layer of tooth). Dentine has tiny tubules that communicate directly with the dental pulp, the innermost part of the tooth which contains nerve and blood vessels. Bacteria can irritate the pulp and cause pain and/or swelling.
Untreated cavities can lead to pain, swelling, difficulty eating and sleeping, damage to the developing permanent teeth, or in severe cases, systemic infection.
How can I prevent ECC in my child?
Please see page on prevention.
What are the symptoms of ECC?
How is ECC treated?
ECC should be treated because severely decayed teeth can cause pain, swelling and infection; affecting your child's diet, growth and development of teeth and jaws.
Treatment depends on multiple factors such as the severity of ECC, and the child's behaviour and ability to cope with treatment. NDCS offers a range of treatment options incuding fluoride treatment, minimally invasive procedures (e.g. hall technique, siver diamine fluoride) and treatment under local anaesthesia or general anaesthesia. Sedation is currently unavailable in NDCS.
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