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Attention mom and dad: Preschool cavities on the rise

It’s time for a friendly chat, mom and dad.

The New York Times released a report this year showing that cavities are becoming more and more prevalent among preschoolers, regardless of income level. The level of decay is so severe that many dentists are having to use general anesthesia to care for child-sized mouths with 6 to 10 cavities.

The Centers for Disease Control spotted the trend five years ago. The agency found that the nation’s youngest dental patients, ages 2-5, experienced a notable rise in cavities between 1988-1994 and 1999-2004. During the first period, 24% of children had cavities in their primary teeth. During the second, the tally rose to 28%.

That’s not the kind of trend we, as dentists, like to see. So here are some things you can do to keep your child’s teeth healthy:

  • Think ahead: Before your child reaches his or her first birthday, schedule a dental visit. Your child doesn’t need a mouthful of teeth to assess cavity risk.
  • Brush regularly: Make it a habit to brush your child’s teeth twice a day, preferably with a fluoride toothpaste.
  • Reduce snacking: Nothing is worse for your child’s teeth than incessant snacking. Sugary or starchy foods will cause the pH level in your child’s mouth to drop sharply, leaving them vulnerable to decay.
  • Lend a hand: As much as you would like your preschooler to be independent, help them brush their teeth. Children typically become proficient between the ages of 7 and 9.

If you want to read the full story in The New York Times, here’s the “Mouthful of Cavities” link.