After years of decline, it seems that the prevalence of tooth decay in children has started to increase. According to resent research reported by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR), 50 percent of children ages 12 to 15 and 67 percent of teens ages 16 to 19 have tooth decay. The CDC’s report on oral health in children also shows an alarming increase of tooth decay.
Approximately one-fourth of U.S. children ages 2 to 5 have tooth decay. According to one NY Times article it has become common for many family dentists to see preschoolers with as many as 6 to 10 cavities.
Why the Increase in Dental Decay?
Some blame the endless snacking and sugary juice drinking that occurs throughout the day, while others blame the increased use of bottled water over fluoridated tap water. The truth is that we still do not know for sure why there is an increase in cavities in our children. However, it does seem that the increase in decay in our kids is strongly correlated with a gradual increase in our per capita sugar intake.
Simple Steps to a Healthy Smile
Dentists recommend that parents begin cleaning their baby’s teeth as soon as the first tooth appears. Use a clean damp cloth after every feeding, and then later a small soft toothbrush as more appear. It has also been recommended that parents take their children to the dentist by their first birthday. At this appointment, your dentist will discuss your child’s diet, proper oral hygiene for infants as well as your child’s fluoride needs. A supplement could be needed if your drinking water doesn’t have enough fluoride to prevent cavities. It is interesting that very soon after birth children acquire the bacterial microflora of their mothers, not their fathers. It is also been shown that when a caregiver places a spoon or pacifier in their mouth before giving it to their child, they pass their own decay causing bacteria to their child. Sealants are also an important component of a decay prevention program for kids.
Hidden Dangers in Some Food
With small changes such as limiting bottled water and sugary drinks, parents definitely reduce cavities. You will obviously want to limit sweet drinks and between meal snacks, but be aware that most juices contain sugar as do fruit roll-ups and other seemingly healthy snacks. These foods, masquerading as healthy, such as gummy vitamins, sticky cereal bars, some yogurt brands and yogurt treats, and even raisins have vast amounts of sugar. Sugar is even hidden in liquid medicines, which is why if you give your children medicine you should be sure to rinse or brush their teeth before bedtime.
All it takes is a little prevention and education, and you can give your child the priceless gift of a healthy, decay free smile that will last a lifetime! Call us at Mark W Langberg, DDS, MAGD at 248-356-8790 for more information on decay prevention for kids via hygiene, diet, fluoride and sealants!
Until next time,
Dr. Mark W. Langberg, DDS, MAGD
26206 West 12 Mile Road, Suite 303
Southfield, MI 48034