Fewer Preschoolers Have Cavities
Most parents probably worry more about the tooth decay and cavities that their teens are likely to experience than their toddlers and preschoolers. After all, teens are more likely to drink lots of sugary soda, eat loads of candy, and forget to brush and floss regularly.
But baby teeth are important too, and a recent report about baby teeth and untreated tooth decay is encouraging.
The U.S. government reported last week that the number of untreated cavities in the baby teeth of kids aged 2 to 5 seem to be falling. Now, about 10 percent of preschool kids have tooth decay and untreated cavities, which is the lowest percentage in the past 25 years.
Overall, though, data about the number of cavities in little kids’ teeth isn’t so good.
In children aged 2 to 5, 23 percent had cavities from 2011 to 2012, which is down from 28 percent in the same aged kids from 1999 to 2004. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report from 2007 caused great alarm by reporting such high numbers of cavities in toddlers, and rightly so!
While dental professionals are happy to see a decline in toddler tooth decay, it’s important to note that about a quarter of kids age 2 to 5 have cavities!
If a very young child has a cavity, it’s important to have it treated right away, before more problems occur. Parents can prepare children for dental visits, and indeed should, regardless of whether they are going for a check-up or to treat a problem.
What can parents do to help decrease the risk for cavities, and therefore treatment for dental decay?
Parents and caregivers, here are some helpful and simple tips:
• Limit the amount of sugary drinks – and not just soda pop but also sugary fruit juices – that your kids drink each day. Don’t let them suck on a bottle of milk all day either, as this can cause baby bottle tooth decay, also called “bottle rot.”
• Limit the amount of time kids have snacks: all-day grazing means that harmful acids and foods stay on and between teeth all day long.
• Teach kids now about how to care for their teeth and gums by using good brushing habits.
Cavities are almost completely preventable! Showing children your own good dental habits can lead to their own good brushing and flossing habits, which can lead to a lifetime of the best dental health possible.