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Oasis Podcasts Pediatric Dentistry Restorative Dentistry

What can you do to prevent early childhood caries?

Ross Anderson-RevisedPodcast Icon SmallDr. John O’Keefe, Director of Knowledge Networks at the Canadian Dental Association, interviewed Dr. Ross Anderson about the prevalence of early childhood caries, also known as “the silent epidemic” and what dentists can do to help. 

Dr. Ross Anderson is Assistant Professor and Head, Program Director, Paediatric Dental General Practice Residency, Division of Paediatric Dentistry, Faculty of Dentistry, at Dalhousie University. Dr. Anderson is also Chief of Dentistry at IWK Health Centre.




Listen to the Audio Interview


Interview Highlights

  • Dr. Anderson: “I must say, it’s frustrating when I hear about parents who have phoned 2 to 3 dental offices to try to make an appointment for their one-year old child, but they are turned away. And it’s also disconcerting for my medical colleagues who I have trained to do oral health assessments and risk assessments; they identify an infant who is at high risk and yet they can’t get them into a dental office.”
  • Dr. Anderson: “A family dentist includes womb to tomb and that includes infants.”
  • There is a “silent epidemic” of the most common infectious disease in childhood, severe early childhood caries. We presently are unable to cope with this epidemic in dentistry.
  • Thirty percent (30%) of all day surgical time in public facilities for infants and children is devoted to treatment of early childhood caries and severe early childhood caries. (1)
  • General practitioners have a tremendous advantage in educating pregnant mothers, in assessing families at risk, and putting in place preventive measures, such as frequent fluoride varnish application and motivational interviewing. 

Call to Action

  • There is a need to change the guidelines to recommend the use of fluoridated toothpaste below the age of 3: a rice-grained portion on a universal basis. 
  • It is very important to realize that dentistry does not need to be alone in this matter. There is a need for a multidisciplinary approach to cope with this epidemic. 


1. Canadian Institute for Health Information. Treatment of Preventable Dental Cavities in Preschoolers: A Focus on Day Surgery Under General Anesthesia [accessed 2014 Mar 7]. Available: www.cihi.ca 

 References (for CDA Essentials article)

  1. Dye BA, Tan S, Smith V, Lewis BG, Barker LK, Thornton-Evans G, et al. Trends in oral health status: United Sates, 1988–1994 and 1999–2004. National Center for Health Statistics. Vital Health Stat 11(248). 2007. Available: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/series/sr_11/sr11_248.pdf
  2. Wright JG, Menaker RJM,Canadian Paediatric Surgical Wait Times Study Group. Waiting for children’s surgery in Canada: the Canadian Paediatric Surgical Wait Times project. CMAJ. 2011;183(9):E559-64. Epub 2011 May 2.
  3. Canadian Institute for Health Information. Treatment of Preventable Dental Cavities in Preschoolers: A Focus on Day Surgery Under General Anesthesia [accessed 2014 Mar 7]. Available: www.cihi.ca
  4. Canadian Dental Association. CDA Position on Uses of Fluorides in Caries Prevention. [accessed 2014 Mar 7]. Available: http://www.cda-adc.ca/en/about/position_statements/
  5. Lewis CW, Barone Lm Quinonez RB, Boulter S, Mouradian WE. Chapter Oral Health Advocates: A Nationwide Model for Pediatrician Peer Education and Advocacy About Oral Health. Int J Dent. 2013; 498906. Epub 2013 Oct 21.


1 Comment

  1. Pamella Schilds April 8, 2014

    I am a Community Dental Assistant working for Northern Health. I would like to comment on the lack of Dentist’s that see one year olds. I am often referring 1-3 year olds to Dentists and I always run into the problem of the dentists turning away these patients. I would really like to see that change. I also run into some dentist offices not recommending fluoride toothpaste to children under the age of 5 years. It is really hard to help people with conflicting recommendations, especially a dentist’s recommendation is going to override an assistant’s. I hope this information goes to all Dentist offices across Canada and changes come soon.
    Thank you and great interview.


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