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Back to School With Tooth Decay, the Top Illness for Children

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As back-to-school time approaches, most kids will arrive back in the classroom with fresh shoes and a new backpack, but what they won’t come to school with is a healthy mouth.

"Tooth decay is the single most common chronic childhood disease—5 times more common than asthma, 4 times more common than early- childhood obesity, and 20 times more common than diabetes," reported the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.

According to data from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, more than half of all elementary school-aged children have had cavities in their primary teeth.

Nearly one-quarter of young children will never receive treatment for their tooth decay. Minority children and children from lower socio-economic homes are at an even more critical risk of developing tooth decay than their peers.

“The beginning of the school year is a fresh start for so many kids, this is a perfect time to address one of the most crucial aspects of a child’s health; their oral health,” according to Dr. Renee Townsend, DDS., Regional Dental Director for Jefferson Dental.

“Many parents wait to address their child’s cavities because there is a misconception that baby teeth aren’t permanent and therefor don’t need treatment.”

At every stage, the health of the teeth and gums is important for maintaining a healthy body.

Pain from poor oral health can affect a child’s ability to concentrate in school, speech and articulation, self-esteem and ability to eat. Furthermore, poor oral health has been linked to a number of chronic diseases in later life.

“Back to school is a time when routine and habits are formed, back to school is a great time to work with kids on their oral health habits,” Dr. Townsend says.

Use these tips to establish better oral health with your children:

• Teach the 2x2x2 rule. Brush and floss for two minutes twice daily, and visit the dentist twice each year.

• Make a routine to brush teeth in the morning before school and in the evening before bed.

• Limit sugary beverages like juice and soda, which can cause cavities.

• Create a dental care routine with all kids, including infants, adolescents and teens. The earlier that healthy habits are formed, the more likely that kids will follow the routine for life.

• Visit your dentist for dental sealants, a plastic protective coating applied to the back of your child’s teeth that can help further prevent decay.

• Finally, lead by example by modeling healthy habits yourself.

Moreover, teaching kids healthy habits from a young age creates a foundation for good oral health throughout life. For more dental care tips and resources, visit www.jeffersondentalclinics.com/

Edited by Jody Smith

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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