Tooth decay in young children’s baby teeth is on the rise, a worrying trend that signals the preschool crowd is eating too much sugar, according to the largest government study of the nation’s dental health in more than 25 years.
Experts are concerned about the prevalence of cavities in baby teeth of children ages 2 to 5. It increased to 28 percent in 1999-2004, from 24 percent in 1988-1994, according to the report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
For the last 40 years there had been a decrease in the amount of tooth decay in young children, based on federal health statistics. Other studies have suggested the decline might have ended, but the new report contains the first statistically significant proof the trend has reversed, dental experts said.
“When you have more decay in your baby teeth, there’s a greater likelihood you’ll have decay in your adult teeth,” the study’s lead author, Dr. Bruce Dye of the National Center for Health Statistics told MSNBC.com. “The ability to take care of teeth requires healthy behavior. Unfortunately, we’re not reinforcing healthy lifestyles for our preschoolers.”
Protecting young children’s teeth can be important to their health long-term, experts say.
In all of this there was some good news: Older children have fewer cavities and adults have less periodontal disease than in the past, and more of the elderly are retaining their teeth.
Researchers believe that parents are giving their children less healthy snacks which are processed, more bottled water and less flouridated tap water. Parents are relying more on fruit snacks, juice boxes, candy and soda” for the sustenance of preschoolers.
These are the same issues that are contributing to the increase in obesity.
The report’s findings come after the highly-publicized case of a 12-year-old boy who died in February when bacteria from an abscessed tooth spread to his brain. His mother had been unable to afford dental care for the boy.
Parents should help their children brush, researchers say that kids don’t have the dexterity to be able to brush properly themselves.