A Washington Post blog entry published earlier this week reports that cavities are the most common childhood chronic disease in the United States. Fifty-nine percent of kids between the ages of twelve and nineteen have at least one cavity, according to a recent Pediatrics paper, and the American Academy of Pediatrics in turn issued new recommendations advising parents to start brushing children's teeth with fluoride as soon as the teeth appear. The study refers to cavities in young children as a "silent epidemic" that disproportionately affects poor, young and minority populations.
From the article:
"We’re still seeing a lot of cavities in very young children," said Rebecca Slayton, a pediatric dentist and member of the executive committee of the academy's section on oral health. "Various national surveys show that we are making progress in some age groups, but in the younger age groups we are not."
Some of the problem stems from poor and immigrant children lacking dental care, but even among parents with the resources to get their children to dentists, there is a lack of awareness that baby teeth need the same care as permanent ones. And infants, of course, can't complain about tooth pain.
Whether it's a lack awareness or lack of resources that is preventing parents from addressing tooth health, the article makes clear that regular dental hygiene for children is an important part of their overall health.
Jen Baxter is a freelance writer and photographer. After spending eight years working for Kaiser Permanente Health plan she took a self-imposed sabbatical to travel around South East Asia and become a blogger. She enjoys writing about nutrition, meditation, and mental health, and finding personal stories that inspire people to take responsibility for their own well-being. Her website and blog can be found at www.jenbaxter.com.