Tooth Decay is a Widespread Problem for Preschoolers

Preschooler at the Dentist getting xraysA couple of weeks ago there was an article in the New York Times about the widespread need for surgery involving general anesthesia to treat tooth decay in preschoolers.

There are a growing number of children as young as 18 months old that have such severe tooth decay they must have surgery involving general anesthesia. Many kids have 12 to 16 caries (cavities) that must be filled. That’s a big deal.

I was also surprised to find out that pediatric experts recommend infants see a dentist before age 1. I thought they didn’t have to go until age 3! Does my insurance company know about this?!?

So who’s to blame for tooth decay? Well, the parents are, but most are not informed enough to know this is such a serious issue. I will admit that after reading this article I shaped up our dental habits considerably.

No parent wants their child to endure major surgery over a totally preventable disease. After doing some research I came up with some tips for dental health. I wish I had known about all of these earlier. Please forward these along so that fewer kids will have suffer through this disease in the future.

Tips for avoiding tooth decay in young kids:

    tooth brushing timer for preschoolers
  • Make sure you brush your child’s teeth at least twice a day.
  • Always help your child brush if he or she is under 6 years of age.
  • Don’t let kids snack or drink juice, soda, or any other sugary drink (this includes milk) between meals, and especially not right before bedtime.
  • Use a toothpaste with flouride as soon as you child is old enough to spit.
  • Give your child flouridated tap water or use a flouride rinse just for kids.
  • Use a timer to make sure you’re brushing for two minutes.
  • Let your preschooler use floss after brushing even if he or she has spaces between teeth. You want flossing to become a habit.
  • Don’t share drinks with family members because you can also share germs that cause tooth decay.
  • Use xylitol lollipops.
  • Visit a dentist before your child is 1, and every 6 months thereafter.
Do you have any tips or opinions on preventing early childhood tooth decay? If so, please leave a comment.
  • Rena (An Ordinary Housewife)

    What if you have a child who will allow herself to get dehydrated before drinking plain water? And are you saying children shouldn’t have any snacks at all?

    • Kristin @ Preschool Universe

      Rena, these are just guidelines – “perfect world” scenarios. You could try some water with a little fruit or lemon in it. And brush after any sweet snacks, if possible.

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