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More Preschoolers with Cavities?

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Have you noticed or heard that more preschoolers are getting cavities than ever before? Just recently the Department of Health issued a letter stating that they would be administering fluoride tablets to all schools to help to combat this issue.

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Both of my children 5 and 2 have had decay and one has a small cavity. While this concerned me, I chose to do a bit of research and if you read my newsletter on Remineralizing Teeth and healing tooth decay they you may have guessed I am giving this a try.

I came across an article by The New York Times, and it seems that Bermuda is not alone in this abundance of cavity issues.

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“The number of preschoolers requiring extensive dental work suggests that many other parents make the same mistake. (waiting too long to set consistent brushing routines) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted an increase, the first 40 years, in the number of preschoolers with cavities in a study five years ago. But dentists nationwide say they are seeing more preschoolers at all income levels with 6 to 10 cavities or more. The level of decay, they added, is so severe that they often recommend using general anesthesia because young children are unlikely to sit through such extensive procedures while they are awake.

“Dentists offer a number of reasons so many preschoolers suffer from such extensive dental decay. Though they are not necessarily new, they have combined to create a growing problem: endless snacking and juice or other sweet drinks at bedtime, parents who choose bottled water rather than fluoridated tap water for their children, and a lack of awareness that infants should, according to pediatric experts, visit a dentist by age 1 to be assessed for future cavity risk, even though they may have only a few teeth.

“And because some toddlers dislike tooth-brushing, some parent do not enforce it…Dental decay often starts with a dull ache that may be mistaken for teething. That is why parents do not realize their child’s teeth are infected until they break or the pain becomes so acute that the child cannot sleep.

“Brushing teeth twice a day used to be nonnegotiable, said Dr. Lindemeyer, but not anymore. Some parents say: ‘He doesn’t want his teeth brushed. We’ll wait until he’s more emotionally mature.’ It’s baffling, she added.

“Dr. Man Wai Ng, the dentist in chief at Children’s Hospital Boston, said she heard parents, rich and poor, make similar rationalizations about their preschoolers’ snacking, like, ‘I can’t ever image Johnny being hungry, so I’m laying out a whole-wheat spread that’s always available. Her advice to parents includes less frequent snacks, and only four ounces of juice a day. She does not forbid sweets, but suggests brushing afterward, and bacteria-killing Xylitol lollipops.”

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I found this to be a very interesting read, as I said not just because my own children have some tooth decay that I am working to correct, but also because nutrition is rarely mentioned as a majority component to our overall health as well as our dental health.  I totally agree with Dr. Man Wai Ng that a reduction in the frequency of snacks for kids, reduction in juice and reduction in sweets will assist to dental decay.

I also think that our diet has a major role or far more important than simple brushing or brushing every time we eat. Consider the thought to reduce sweets in our diet – are you aware that carbohydrates when broken down in the body turns to sugars?  So if we are following the current USDA Food Pyramid with whole grains as the greatest of foods we should consume – then it might be a correlation that our preschoolers are having not only dental issue but obesity issues (as sugars over 6 tsp are stored as fat).

Don’t believe me, I encourage you to research it for yourself.

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