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 disparity when compared with the general population of both countries. Early childhood caries (ECC) occurs in Indigenous children at an earlier age, with a higher prevalence, and at much greater severity than in the general population. ECC results in adverse oral health, affecting childhood health and well-being, and may result in high rates of costly surgical treatment under general anesthesia. ECC is an infectious disease that is influenced by multiple factors, but the social determinants of health are particularly important. This policy statement includes recommendations for preventive and clinical oral health care for infants, toddlers, preschool-aged children, and pregnant women by primary health care providers. It also addresses community-based health-promotion initiatives and access to dental care for Indigenous children. This policy statement encourages oral health interventions at early ages in Indigenous children, including referral to dental care for the use of sealants, interim therapeutic restorations, and silver diamine fluoride. Further community-based research on the microbiology, epidemiology, prevention, and management of ECC in Indigenous communities is also needed to reduce the dismally high rate of caries in this population.
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Copyright © 2021 by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
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