Many parents and caregivers, trusting they are doing their best for preschoolers, unintentionally neglect one aspect of their health. This inattention often leads to a chronic disease that can affect a child’s ability to function in the world.
So what do 1 in 5 preschoolers have by age 5?
Chronic Dental Decay
Many parents might shake their head at this and say, “but they lose their baby teeth.” The often ignored fact is that the health of baby teeth will directly affect the health of the child’s permanent teeth. Their oral health is important at the youngest age, and parents do well to focus their efforts there.
Why is this so important? Well, the biggest reason is that dental decay is a chronic condition. It builds on itself if it isn’t stopped. This means that the teeth you can’t even see are under threat from what’s happening in a preschooler’s mouth.
This is why doctors and dentists warn against bottle rot. This condition occurs when a baby is allowed to use their bottle like a pacifier. Unless the liquid is water, the bottle’s contents are glueing themselves to the baby’s teeth and creating the unhealthy conditions that lead to plaque, cavities, and gum disease.
An even more common cause of childhood cavities is the reliance on sweets and junk food that is so prevalent in our society. Of course, you can control much of their diet, and the child will still have the dangers of dental disease.
To prevent this, the Centers for Disease Control has stated that fluoride varnish is proven to reduce cavities. This reduces baby teeth cavities by about one-third. That’s very promising.
Even more effective, dental sealants can prevent childhood cavities. According to the CDC, this treatment is even more successful. It works at the time to slow existing decay as well as to prevent new cavities, but it also proves 80 percent effective in minimizing future cavities, the kind in adult teeth that were caused in young childhood.
All of this evidence points to taking preschoolers to the dentist at a young age. While it’s common to wait until a child is older, the American Association of Pediatric Dentists recommend bringing a baby at age one. They are backed up by the CDC and the American Dental Association.
Early treatments give the family dentist a chance to catch problems as they develop. Parents get important training in how to care for young teeth. Equally important, it allows the child to become accustomed to the dental process. Each time they return, there is a bit more done. This may reduce their dental anxiety, and it should help prevent the need for fillings.
If you read the studies about children with oral health problems, you see how important it really is. Dental problems at a young age discourage children from speaking and from eating properly. Pain and discomfort make it hard to learn. Missing school due to that pain is an even bigger problem.
On the most personal level, it is a nice thing to see that children are spared such uncomfortable things as shots and the dentist’s drill. It’s even nicer to know that cavities and other decay will have been prevented.
As people live longer, preventing early dental decay is becoming even more essential. If you want your preschooler to have their teeth at age 75, the effort starts right now.