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Little Smiles Pediatric Dentistry
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8708 SE 17th Ave, Portland, OR 97202
(503) 235-0313
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Are Your Kids at Risk for Early Childhood Cavities?

Posted on 12/15/2015 by Cynthia Pelley
A young boy suffering from cavities!Early childhood cavities are an infectious disease that can begin as early as six months of age, as this is when the teeth first begin to emerge.

Unfortunately, this condition can progress rapidly and can cause your child significant pain. The condition involves the presence of at least one decayed tooth in a child younger than six years old.

Fortunately, there are a number of things that parents can do to help to protect their child against developing this condition.

The Incidence of Early Childhood Cavities

Tooth decay is the most common of all chronic childhood diseases. It is 4 times more common than early childhood obesity and 5 times more common than asthma. Additionally, childhood tooth decay is 20 times more common than diabetes, and when left untreated, this condition can destroy a child’s teeth while having strong and long-lasting effects on the child’s overall health.

Despite improved oral health options available and an increase in fluoride within municipal water, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has stated that cavities have increased for both toddlers and preschoolers. When examining children between the ages of 2-5, 24% of the sample had cavities during the time frame of 1988 to 1994, while this number had jumped to 28% from 1999-2004.

Unfortunately, early childhood cavities are highly concentrated among children in socially disadvantaged situations. This is especially true of children who qualify for coverage through state Medicaid programs. Additionally, Mexican-American children are significantly more likely than their non-Hispanic black or white peers to suffer from cavities.

Problems Associated with Early Childhood Cavities

Some parents are under the impression that early childhood cavities aren’t a major problem since they affect the baby teeth that are going to fall out anyways. Unfortunately, this mindset is a mistake, as early childhood cavities can cause both infection and pain. Additionally, they can affect your child’s communication, speech, ability to eat, and ability to sleep. Failing to get treatment for an early childhood cavity in its beginning stages can also lead to more expensive restorative treatment further on down the road.

How Parents Can Protect Against Early Childhood Cavities

As a parent, it is your responsibility to teach your child about good dental hygiene practices to establish healthy habits. This will start when your child is an infant, and when your child’s teeth first start to appear, you should begin to brush them with an infant-sized toothbrush and fluoridated toothpaste.

Keep in mind that kids under the age of two should only be using a small smear of paste. Using more than that could subject your child to excessive fluoride, which could be problematic. It is also important that you don’t put your child to sleep along with a bottle of formula, milk, or juice, as this can result an issue known as baby bottle tooth decay.

As your child gets older, you should be encouraging the use of sippy cups. This should begin around your child’s first birthday, and during the day if your child is going to carry a sippy cup around, it should only contain water. After your child’s first birthday you can graduate to a pea-sized amount of toothpaste, but you should continue to supervise your child’s brushing until he or she is about eight years old.

It is important to remember that your child should visit a pediatric dentist by the time of his first birthday in order to look for signs of early childhood cavities and other issues. By establishing a good relationship with your pediatric dentist right away, you can set your child up for a lifetime of good dental health.

Please contact us if you have any questions about early childhood cavities.

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Little Smiles Pediatric Dentistry - Cynthia Pelley | | (503) 235-0313
8708 SE 17th Avenue, Portland, OR 97202