Family History A family history of dental caries increases a child’s risk for decay. The caries history of the mother or the primary caregiver should be carefully evaluated to determine if the child has an increased risk. The caregiver’s knowledge of dental health and attitude toward dental care or health literacy should also be assessed. Children from lower socioeconomic families may have a higher risk for developing dental caries. In addition, children with immigrant backgrounds may have a higher caries rates than non-immigrants.
Dietary Habits Types, consistency, and frequency of solid and liquid food intake should be evaluated for cariogenic (caries-causing) potential. On-demand bottle feeding with a fermentable carbohydrate, on-demand breast-feeding and frequent consumption of non-mealtime sugar-containing snacks daily increase the caries risk by increasing the amount of time oral acid is formed and therefore the chance for enamel demineralization.
Allowing a child to fall asleep with a bottle containing natural or added sugar increases a child’s risk for developing early childhood caries.
Sleep Time Habits
Medical Conditions An accurate and up-to-date medical history is essential for caries risk assessment. Children with special health care needs are at increased risk for oral diseases including caries. Those with mental, developmental, or physical disabilities who do not have the ability to understand and assume responsibility for or cooperate with preventive oral health practices may be more susceptible. Children with compromised immunity or cardiac conditions associated with endocarditis may be especially vulnerable to the effects of oral diseases.
Pediatric medications may contain sucrose and children who regularly take such medications for chronic conditions need to be on a more intensive prevention program. Children undergoing radiation therapy may have reduced salivary flow which warrants the highest attention toward preventing caries.