Dental caries has a multifactorial etiology.
It is developed upon the presence of dental biofilm, which is responsible for mediating the demineralization of dental tissues: enamel and dentin.
There is need of interaction among three factors so that caries occur: cariogenic microorganisms (Streptococcus mutans), fermentable substrate (such as saccharose) and a vulnerable host.
The interaction among these factors during a period of time promotes the development of caries, which begins with the appearance of opaque white spots, without cavity, on dental surface, resulting from demineralization of tooth enamel.
ECC can begin early in life, progresses rapidly in those who are at high risk, and often goes untreated.
Its consequences can affect the immediate and long-term quality of life of the child's family and can have significant social and economic consequences beyond the immediate family as well.
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ECC can be a particularly virulent form of caries, beginning soon after dental eruption, developing on smooth surfaces, progressing rapidly, and having a lasting detrimental impact on the dentition.
Children experiencing caries as infants or toddlers have a much greater probability of subsequent caries in both the primary and permanent dentitions.
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