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Cunnion, Culler of SDM hold ECC seminar

SDM Assistant Professor Sara Cunnion led a seminar on early childhood tooth decay.

Dara Cunnion.

In response to an unusually high incidence of tooth decay in babies and young children in Chelsea, SDM doctors recently held an educational seminar for community members.

Early childhood caries (ECC) is a type of tooth decay caused by bacteria that leads to demineralization of the tooth surface. The national average for ECC is 5 percent, according to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. In Chelsea, the average is up to four times that number.

In response to this alarming statistic, two SDM faculty members recently conducted a seminar to educate local dental professionals about ECC. The seminar, held in July and attended by 15 dental health professionals, was conducted by Dara Cunnion, assistant professor of general dentistry and pediatric dentistry and director of the Predoctoral Pediatric Dentistry Program and Corinna Culler, clinical instructor and dental hygienist in the Division of Community Health Programs.

“We were there to try to address some of the questions dental professionals had about ECC, and to inform them about where to refer patients, new techniques to utilize in their practices, and preventing transmission of bacteria from mother to child,” says Cunnion.

Cunnion’s presentation identified some causes of ECC and discussed treatment and prevention. Culler provided additional information and statistics about ECC nationally and in the community. The seminar was sponsored by an American Academy of General Dentistry grant.