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The prevalence of early childhood caries and its associated risk factors among preschool children referred to a tertiary care institution

OO Olatosi
V Inem
OO Sofola
P Prakash
EO Sote


Objective: The aim was to determine the prevalence of early childhood caries (ECC) and its association with infant feeding and oral health‑related behavior among preschool children aged 6–71 months in Lagos.

Materials and Methods: This was a descriptive cross‑sectional study in which 302 children aged 6–71 months were selected from four pediatric outpatient clinics in Lagos, Nigeria. A structured questionnaire was used to obtain information regarding oral hygiene practices, dietary habits, breast and bottle feeding, birth weight of child and socioeconomic status of the family, from mothers of the children. The status of dental caries was recorded according to the World Health Organization criteria.

Results: The prevalence of ECC among 302 children aged 6–71 months was 21.2% while the mean deft was 0.735. Multivariate logistic regression analysis showed the correlation of ECC with the associated risk factors. ECC was significantly higher in children who were bottle‑fed at night. Method of tooth cleaning other than using fluoridated toothpaste significantly increased the prevalence of ECC. Breastfeeding for duration of 3–6 months showed significantly lesser caries prevalence. Caries significantly increased with age.

Conclusion: Early childhood caries is a multifactorial disease in which prolonged duration of breastfeeding, nocturnal bottle feeding, and use of cleaning methods other than fluoridated toothpaste are risk factors for ECC. Oral health promotion programs should be targeted at mothers, pediatricians, nurses, caretakers at day care centers and primary care health workers.

Keywords: Early childhood caries, Lagos, prevalence, risk factors

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eISSN: 2229-7731
print ISSN: 1119-3077