All parents want good oral health for their children, but the dentist's office can be a scary place. Anyone who has ever taken a child, especially a young one, to the dentist knows how painful it can be. And that's when all goes well. When the child has a cavity it makes the whole process 100 times harder.
In the past, cavities did not start until much later in childhood, perhaps around 10 or 12. However, a 2012 New York Times story uncovered the fact that cavities are now starting earlier than ever. Even preschoolers are coming to the dentist with several cavities in their baby teeth.
The New York Times reported that dentists across the country are seeing more three to five year olds with 6 -10 cavities or more. These kids are from all socioeconomic backgrounds and many of them had a level of tooth decay which made general anesthesia necessary.
Children at this age have a hard time tolerating the fillings, root canals, and other extensive dental repairs while awake, and thus have to deal with the risks that come along with anesthesia.
Kids do not have have to get cavities, though. There are simple steps parents can take to promote good oral health and keep teeth, especially baby ones, cavity-free.
The first thing parents need to do is to take their children to the dentist. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends taking a child to the dentist as soon as the first tooth erupts, or by his first birthday. They want to get children in early so they don't have more oral health problems later on.
Even though baby teeth will fall out anyway they need to be protected. Untreated cavities can cause a multitude of orthodontia issues in the future as well as more pain, and expense than is necessary.
Thankfully, cavities in children can be prevented and good oral health achieved. Here are six steps to keep kids cavity-free.
1. Take children to a dentist early and often. Twice a year is recommended.
2. Give kids fluoridated tap water to drink. Bottled water generally doesn't have any (or very little) fluoride.
3. Make sure kids have a balanced diet and limit juice and sugary drinks.