About this Research Topic
Dental caries (tooth decay) is one of the most common diseases globally and the most common disease in childhood. Early childhood caries (ECC) is recognized as a global public health problem. If untreated ECC can lead to health impacts such as acute infection and need for emergency dental care. Conceptual models suggest that causal pathways for the development of caries in early childhood are complex and include biological, environmental, social and behavioral risk factors which have a complex interplay. Behaviors are in turn influenced by oral health knowledge, parenting styles and psychological factors such as self-efficacy and motivation. Furthermore the severity of dental caries is known to follow a social gradient, differentially impacting populations based on social determinants.
Effective interventions at the family, community and population level are vitally needed to inform public health strategies for ECC. ECC prevention and management can occur across the life course, for example by using fluoride toothpaste, fluoride varnish, Silver Diamine Fluoride (SDF) and the atraumatic restorative technique (ART). These and other minimally invasive procedures have become even more critical due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the avoidance of aerosol generating procedures. Therefore, stakeholder groupings for differential interventions are needed at all levels of the health system, including government, organizations, clinicians, patients and caregivers. These could include (a) Government: sugar policy, fluoridation, universal oral health care (as proposed by the WHO) (b) Organizations: training and licensing requirements, community-based programs and insurance programs increasing prevention compensation, (c) Clinicians: focusing the initial visit on examination and comprehensive prevention, (d) Parents and caregivers: support and advice for positive oral health practices, including advice on oral hygiene, diet and nutrition.
Topic submission themes may include:
Social and behavioral interventions for caries prevention in early childhood.
Qualitative studies on parental influences on early childhood oral health.
Minimally invasive management of ECC.
Systematic reviews of community-based interventions and public health strategies for ECC.
A health systems approach for early childhood oral health.
Keywords: Dental caries, Early childhood, Health promotion, Health systems, Prevention
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