Early Childhood Tooth Decay: It is Worse than You Think
Posted on 3/17/2014 by Jessica Edgerton
Pediatric dental experts are deeply concerned about the oral health of today’s kids, particularly younger children. Pediatric dentist and American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) president, Warren Brill, tells USA Today that rapid tooth decay in infants and toddlers is reaching epidemic proportions.
The problem is so severe that the AAPD has launched a new education campaign to help parents and caregivers learn more. Here’s the latest information on the problem, along with must-have AAPD tips on how to keep your kids cavity-free:
The Growing Problem
Did you know that toddlers can suffer from toothaches, too? Early childhood caries, once called baby bottle tooth decay, is on the rise. Teenagers, too, are showing higher incidences of dental decay.
Suspected reasons for the problem include prolonged use of baby bottles and sippy cups during napping and playing hours, as well as the excessive consumption of sugary drinks by teens. Careless brushing is also to blame.
It’s frightening to imagine that cavities can be deadly, and bacteria can spread from the teeth to the bloodstream. Many parents don’t realize that even brand new baby teeth can decay and lead to ongoing issues for the child. The good news is all of this can be prevented.
The AAPD recommends taking your child to see a dentist before his or her first birthday. Also, supervise brushing until kids are 7 to 8 years old.
The latest brushing tip? It’s okay to use a smear of toothpaste for kids under 3. “You’re well within the established safety limits for fluoride,” Brill says. “The fluoride you get from the toothpaste helps the parts [of the teeth] that have formed, to enrich them and make them stronger.”
After 3, graduate to a pea-sized amount of toothpaste. Kids should floss once they have two teeth that are touching. Limit juice to 6 oz. per day. Only offer children water at bedtime. Chewing gum is okay! The AAPD recommends non-sugar variety with XYLITOL.