Early childhood caries in Indigenous communities
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The oral health of Indigenous children of Canada (First Nations, Inuit and Métis) and the United States (American Indian and Alaska Native) is a major child health issue. This is exemplified by the high prevalence of early childhood caries (ECC) with resulting adverse health effects, as well as high rates and costs of restorative and surgical treatments under general anesthesia. ECC is an infectious disease that is influenced by multiple factors, including socioeconomic determinants, and requires a combination of approaches for improvement. The present statement includes recommendations for oral health preventive and clinical care for young infants and pregnant women by primary health care providers, community-based health promotion initiatives, oral health workforce and access issues, and advocacy for community water fluoridation and fluoride varnish program access. Further community-based research on the epidemiology, prevention, management and microbiology of ECC in Indigenous communities would be beneficial.
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