Dental cavities are among the most common childhood dental problems in the U.S. If left untreated, they can result in pain and various infections that can lead to issues with eating, talking, learning, and playing.
Children and Tooth Decay – The Facts
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 20% of kids aged five to 11 and roughly 13% of teens from twelve to 19 years old have a minimum of one untreated decaying tooth. The great news is that you can easily prevent this problem. Fluoride varnish, which is a highly concentrated fluoride coating for teeth, may prevent around 33% of tooth decay in baby’s primary teeth.
Also, kids who live in areas with fluoridated tap water are less likely to develop tooth decay than those living in areas with un-fluoridated tap water. Kids who brush their teeth daily with fluoride toothpaste also have reduced risk of developing tooth decay.
Aside from fluoride varnish and toothpaste, dental sealants can likewise prevent the development of tooth decay. Published studies indicate that they can lower decay rates by up to 81% in kids’ permanent molars for as long as two years after application and remain effective for up to four years.
How You Can Help Your Kids Prevent Tooth Decay
First, make sure your kids eat healthy foods with limited sweets, and that they stay away from carbonated beverages. Make sure they brush their teeth with fluoride toothpaste. Supervise proper brushing if your kid is below six years of age and only use toothpaste in pea-sized amounts. Don’t give fluoride toothpaste if your kid is below two years old unless directed by your family dentist.
You can also ask your dentist about applying fluoride varnish or if your kid needs fluoride supplements, if the tap water in your area is not fluoridated. In addition, you can also ask for dental sealants as extra protection. Lastly, you should take your kids to the family dentist for their first dental checkup by six months of age or when their first tooth has erupted, following the general recommendation of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD).