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A Rise in Cavities Among Toddlers

By March 13, 2012

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Last week, the New York Times had an article about the increasing number of small children who have significant tooth decay . Significant enough to have to undergo I.V. sedation in order to treat their dental needs. I have always been aware of an increase of cavities in preschool children among the lower income families (mainly due to lack of proper dental care or access to dental care). This article was truly alarming because it pointed out that this problem no longer primarily affects lower income families but affects preschoolers of all income levels.

The article describes specific cases where an upper middle class mom didn't think about brushing her young child's teeth until she noticed that they were discolored. As it turned out, this child had 11 cavities. She claimed she had such a busy life that it didn't occur to her that it was important to take the time to brush them properly.

Many parents also claim that they simply were not informed about when to start taking their child to the dentist or even when they should start using fluoride toothpaste. Another reason parents aren't brushing their child's teeth properly is because they are stating that toddlers simply do not like to have their teeth brushed. So in order to avoid the screaming and crying that occurs during these brushing sessions, they will choose not to brush their teeth. Another increase in toddler cavities comes from drinking high sugar juice or other sugary drinks before bedtime or even throughout the day. This sugar sits on children's teeth and the acid it produces creates the decay.

In no way am I saying that these parents are cruelly negligent or "bad", they are just no properly informed as to the importance of maintaining toddler's teeth. Even though baby teeth are eventually replaced, they serve such an important purpose and need to be kept healthy and around for as long as they are needed.

What we need is better information that is more readily available to everyone with young children.

March 14, 2012 at 2:32 am
(1) Colorado Dental Implants says:

Hello Lora, I have gone through your article and loved it very much. You are absolutely true that this is very important to brush everyday. This is my request also to every parents that “Please look after your children’s teeth” .. Don’t use the Fluoride toothpaste as it is very very harmful for the teeth. It has some element that can decay your teeth as well. Anyways, I have bookmarked and shared your article. Keep it up. Love to see more informative article from you. :)

March 15, 2012 at 12:02 pm
(2) Megan says:

I love your article. It is scary to think that what we are lacking is simply better communication. I think it would be nice to see the health care system as a whole work together to inform the parents. If the child’s doctor could be more persistent in informing parents that brushing teeth is important and visiting the dentist starting at 6mo old, parents might start thinking about it more. As a dental professional, I inform parents bring their kids in sooner then later is important so the child can get used to dental visits and letting them play with a tooth brush (chewing and massaging their gums) when they start teeth helps get the kids ready.
Thank you for the great information. Look forward to more

March 15, 2012 at 10:47 pm
(3) dentist Bondi Junction wisdom teeth says:

This is a very good article indeed, now I need to inform my cousin about this article because his son is experiencing this problem at the moment.

March 16, 2012 at 4:46 pm
(4) fogászati kezelés says:

I read this blog with interest.
In my opinion the most important thing in dental care the prevention.
We must make the young understand, that they have to care their tooth.
I agree that we must not use the Fluoride toothpaste because it is very harmful for the teeth.

March 19, 2012 at 3:31 pm
(5) nyscof says:

It’s sad we’ve allowed organized dentistry to convince us that all kids need is more fluoride. 80% of dentists refuse Medicaid patients. 130 Million Americans don’t have dental insurance. Many of those with insurance can’t afford dentistry’s high out-of-pocket costs.

Meanwhile, after 67 years of water fluoridation, more dental schools are opening, more dental professionals have been created and dentists’ offices had higher profit margins than any other industry , according to Sageworks,

This country needs to employ Dental Therapists. But organized dentistry is so politically powerful that legislators are afraid to tick them off and cause dentists to lose their lucrative monopoly by allowing Dental Therapists to work in the US as they have for decades in other first world countries – very successfully.

Also, the mistaken thought that fluoride could prevent tooth decay has made loads of money for the dental products’ industry but have overdosed our children. The CDC says 60% of adolescents have dental fluorosis (discolored teeth) from ingesting too much fluoride. Yet, tooth decay is rampant

Absent from discussion is that children are deficient in vit D and calcium – two nutrients required for healthy teeth. But no big industry is lobbying about them or can profit from them. Fluoride is neither a nutrient nor essential for healthy teeth. It is a drug not necessary for tooth formation or decay prevention..

Also most juices have a fluoride content, either from the water supply used to make it or from fluoride containing pesticide residues. No American is or ever was fluoride deficient. However, millions are dentist-deficient.There is no science to support the notion that drinking fluoride-free water leads to more tooth decay.

Rotten diets make rotten teeth and no amount of fluoride can change that.

March 19, 2012 at 3:33 pm
(6) EDG says:

You said it with the comment about the drinks—I think there’s been a definite uptick in the amount of juices, sodas, sports drinks, and energy drinks (with the older kids) in my career of 25 years. As a new dentist I sort of expected younger kids to be cavity free–now I’m surprised when they are!

March 23, 2012 at 12:58 pm
(7) dentistry says:

I am surprised too! Especially since almost any children’s health topic/advice is available on the internet as well. This means we, (the dental community) needs to be more vocal and teach the importance of proper oral hygiene to anyone who will listen. :-)

March 23, 2012 at 10:20 am
(8) Jeannine F Valentine says:

Nice Article. I am a true believer in SEALANTS. I am a EFDA assistant and I see this all the time. Parents need to get sealants on even baby teeth it the teeth have pits in them. Prevent cavites Seal out decay. I had Sealants done on both my childrens baby teeth and permanent teeth and not just the molars the bicuspids also. My grandchildren know how to floss they’re teeth and they were taught brush each individual tooth. Children’s toothpaste comes in all flavors. EDUCATE them and they will do it right. :) When children are 1,2,and 3 years old the parent has to brush they’re teeth be gentle and kind when doing it make it fun. When they are older you still have to watch them brush and make sure you see them cleaning each tooth individually. Kids are smart but the parents need to be on top of it. IMHO only. :)

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