By Chie Li Ee, DMD and Chrissy Boothroyd
Did you know that tooth decay is the second most common disease in the United? The first one is the common cold. In children, tooth decay is more prevalent than the common cold, affecting 42% of children age 2 to 11. It is five times more common than asthma and seven times more common than allergies. More than four million toddlers are affected by tooth decay.
The greatest risk factor for childhood cavities is poverty. One in four children have never been to a dentist by the time they start kindergarten. Uninsured children are almost 3 times less likely to receive dental care. Other common risk factors include the following:
- Not having a dentist
- Lack of fluoridated water
- Having a parent with cavities (you can infect your child with the bacteria that causes cavities)
- Frequent snacking with sugary snacks
- Sugary drinks and going to bed with a bottle or constant sippy cup use
- Not brushing and flossing daily (younger children need to be supervised)
Early childhood cavities can cause pain, loss of teeth, head and neck infections, cavities later in life, impaired growth and weight gain, missed school days, speech problems and a poorer quality of life. Over 51 million hours of school are missed each years due to dental problems. Most people don’t realize that proper care of baby teeth is just as important as the permanent adult teeth. Baby teeth hold space in the jaws for permanent teeth that are developing under the gums. Children’s permanent teeth generally start coming in between the ages of 6 and 7.
Preventive care can help to eliminate tooth decay. The American Dental Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend bringing your child to the dentist as early as one years old for an oral health risk assessment. Regular dental checkups, including fluoride application can help avoid future problems. We know it’s not easy to get your kids excited to go see the dentist, but starting good habits at an early age can make those appointments much easier (and less frequent). At Cape May Dental Associates, we see children of all ages. Call us at (609) 884-5335 to set up an appointment with Dr. Ee to ensure your child has a lifetime of excellent oral health and great smiles!