Skip to main content
Log in

Severity of early childhood caries in preschool children attending Al-Ain Dental Centre, United Arab Emirates

  • Original Scientific Article
  • Published:
European Archives of Paediatric Dentistry Aims and scope Submit manuscript



To investigate the severity of and contributing factors of early childhood caries (ECC) in preschool children presented to a paediatric dentistry department in Al-Ain Dental Centre, United Arab Emirates; to study the level of any previous dental care provided to these children and to establish a baseline database for further research and the resources required for serving preschool children in Al-Ain (UAE).

Study design

Cross-sectional prospective.


The sample consisted of all healthy children below 5 years of age who presented for their initial visits to the Department of Paediatric Dentistry during a 3-month period. A structured questionnaire was used to obtain information regarding demographic data, feeding history and dietary habits, and oral hygiene practices. The dental examination of children was conducted by the investigator with the help of a mouth mirror and Sirona dental unit light source.


One hundred and seventy six children with a mean age of 3.7 years were included in the study and 78 (44 %) children were still bottle-fed on demand at the time of examination. More than half of the children consumed sweets more than once/day and 58 % either never or rarely brushed their teeth. Only one child was given fluoride. Two-thirds of children had never visited a dentist before and 63 % had poor oral hygiene. The mean dmft and dmfs scores were 10.9 and 32.1, respectively. The care index was very low (6.4 %).


The high level of dental decay could be attributed to on-demand bottle feeding, high sweet consumption, poor oral hygiene, lack of use of fluoride prevention and lack of regular dental visits. There is a great need for prospective studies and community preventive programmes to solve the continuing problem of ECC.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Subscribe and save

Springer+ Basic
EUR 32.99 /Month
  • Get 10 units per month
  • Download Article/Chapter or Ebook
  • 1 Unit = 1 Article or 1 Chapter
  • Cancel anytime
Subscribe now

Buy Now

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3

Similar content being viewed by others


  • Abramson JH. Interview and self-administered questionnaire. In: Survey methods in community medicine (4th edition). Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone; 1990. p. 165–176.

  • Al-Hosani E, Rugg-Gunn A. Combination of low parental educational attainment and high parental income related to high caries experience in pre-school children in Abu Dhabi. Community Dent Oral Epidemiol. 1998;26(1):31–6.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. Guideline on infant oral health care. Ref Man. 2012;35(6):13–4.

    Google Scholar 

  • Chu CH, Chau AM, Wong ZS, Hui BS, Lo EC. Oral health status and behaviours of children in myanmar—a pilot study in four villages in rural areas. Oral Health Prev Dent. 2012;10:365–71.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Committee on Medical Aspects of Food (COMA). Dietary sugars and human disease. Reports of panel on dietary sugars. Report in health and social subjects. London: HMSO;1989. p 37.

  • Drury TF, Horowitz AM, Ismail AI. Diagnosing and reporting early childhood caries for research purposes. J Public Health Dent. 1999;59(3):192–7.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Garcia MB, Nör JE, Schneider LG, Bretz WA. A model for clinical evaluation of the effect of antimicrobial agents on carious dentin. Am J Dent. 2001;14:119–22.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Hashim R, Thomson WM, Ayers KMS, Lewsey JD, Awad M. Dental caries experience and use of dental services among preschool children in Ajman UAE. Intern J Paediatr Dent. 2006;16(4):257–62.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hinds K, Gregory T. National diet and nutrition survey: children aged 1.5 to 4.5 years. Report of the dental survey Volume 2. HMSO: London; 1995.

  • Ismail AI, Sohn W. A systematic review of clinical diagnos-tic criteria of early childhood caries. J Public Health Dent. 1999;59(3):171–91.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Jackson D. Measuring restorative dental care in communities. Br Dent J. 1973;134:385–8.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Jenkins GN. Review of food cariogenicity testing. In: Diet and dental caries, editor. Storey E. Melbourne: University of Melbourne; 1982. p. 47–55.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kohler B, Bratthall D, Krasse B. Preventive measures in mothers influence the establishment of bacterium streptococcus mutans in their infants. Arch Oral Biol. 1983;28:225–31.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Kowash MB, Pinfield A, Smith J, Curzon MEJ. Effectiveness on oral health of a long-term health education programme for mothers with young children. Br Dent J. 2000;188:201–4.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Kowash MB, Toumba KJ, Curzon MEJ. Cost-effectiveness of a long-term dental health education programme for the prevention of early childhood caries. Eur Arch Paediatr Dent. 2006;7(3):130–5.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Lee C, Rezaiamiri N, Jeffcott E, Oberg D, Domoto P, Weinstein P. Teaching parents at WIC clinics to examine their high caries risk babies. J Dent Child. 1994;61:347–9.

    Google Scholar 

  • Lo EC, Schwarz E, Wong MC. Arresting dentine caries in Chinese preschool children. Int J Paediatr Dent. 1998;8:253–60.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • O’Brien JE. Children’s dental health in the United Kingdom 1993. London: HMSO School Survey Division; 1994.

    Google Scholar 

  • O’Keefe E. Early Childhood caries. Evid Based Dent 2013;14:40–1.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • O’Sullivan EA, Curzon MEJ. Efficacy of comprehensive dental care for children under general anaesthesia. Br Dent J 1991;171:56–8.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Palmer JD, Anderson RJ, Downer MC. Guidelines for prevalence studies of dental caries. Community Dent Oral Epidemiol. 1984;1:55–66.

    Google Scholar 

  • Richardson BD, Cleaton-Jones PE, McInnes PM, Ranisho JM. Infant feeding practices and nursing bottle caries. J Dent Child. 1981;48:423–9.

    Google Scholar 

  • Sundin B, Birkhed D, Granath L. Is there not a strong relationship nowadays between caries and consumption of sweet? Swed Dent J. 1983;7:103–8.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Todd JE, Dodd T. Children’s dental health in the UK 1983. London: OPCS Social Survey Division; 1985.

    Google Scholar 

  • Toumba KJ, Curzon ME. A clinical trial of a slow-releasing fluoride device in children. Caries Res. 2005;39(3):195–200

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Weinstraub JA. Prevention of early childhood caries: a public health perspective. Community Dent Oral Epidemiol. 1998;26:62–6.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references


The author wishes to express his great appreciation to the mothers of the children for their interest and cooperation in this study. The author would also like to thank professors David Wray and Dr. Iyad Hussein for their help in checking and editing the English language of the manuscript.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to M. B. Kowash.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Kowash, M.B. Severity of early childhood caries in preschool children attending Al-Ain Dental Centre, United Arab Emirates. Eur Arch Paediatr Dent 16, 319–324 (2015).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: