Most parents of preschoolers spend their days worrying about their children playing nicely with other kids on the playground and taking naps to fight bouts of crankiness. But now dentists are realizing a new trend in preschoolers: mouths full of cavities before they start to lose their baby teeth.
According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for the first time in 40 years, there has been an increase in the number of cavities in preschool-age children. Dentists across the country are seeing preschoolers coming into the dentist’s office with anywhere from six to ten cavities. The tooth decay seen in these children is often so severe dentists are using anesthesia during treatment because they are more impatient than older dentistry patients and less likely to sit through an extensive cleaning.
The increase in children’s cavities is likely attributed to sweet snacks or juices at bedtime, parents who skip the fluoridated tap water and instead give their children bottled water, and a lack of parental awareness that infants should visit a dentist as early as 1 year old. Also likely contributing to more cavities in young teeth? The fact parents often dislike forcing their children to brush their teeth and instead choose their child to opt out of cleaning instead of ensuring they brush twice a day.
In this article with the New York Times, Dr. Jed Best, a pediatric dentist serving the Manhattan area in New York, offers the following response to parents who don’t want to force their children to brush their teeth twice a day:
“I’d much rather have a kid cry with a soft toothbrush than when I have to drill for a cavity.”
Another problem also affecting this increase in fillings is the fact many parents believe that because they are only baby teeth, it doesn’t matter whether these teeth have cavities or are brushed properly. While these baby teeth will eventually fall out and be replaced by permanent teeth within a few years, the dental habits that are being established early in life will likely stick with the child for much longer.
By setting up children with a healthy dental routine early in life, you can help them avoid not only cavities during their youth, but also help them avoid costly and painful visits to the dentist in the future. Here are some steps you can take with your children to help them get into the routine of brushing on a regular basis.
- Set your brushing to music – Most parents know that children should brush as long as it takes them to complete the ABCs to make sure teeth are fully clean, but you can set brushing time to any of your child’s favorite songs. Play your child’s favorite song in the bathroom while they are brushing their teeth twice a day. Not only will they enjoy brushing time even more, but they will also be brushing their teeth for a long enough period of time.
- Have kids brush teeth at a different time – Kids are often cranky and irritable before bed, and brushing teeth can become even more of a daunting task when it signifies it’s time for bed. Instead, have your kids brush right after they finish eating dinner or before one of their favorite television shows.
- Set a good example – Kids learn a lot by imitation, so set a good example with your own dental hygiene. Brush your teeth with your child and show them the proper way to care for their teeth every day.
- Offer rewards – Create a poster to keep track of your child’s brushing habits. Place a sticker on the chart each time your child brushes before leaving the house in the morning and before going to bed at night. Offer an incentive after your kids have successfully brushed twice a day for the week.
By starting good dental habits early in your child’s life, you can prevent them from needing extensive dental procedures while they are still young.
Amy Moczynski manages the digital marketing for Nashua Cosmetic and Restorative Dentistry, a Nashua, New Hampshire dentistry office.
Image Courtesy: Microsoft