Recent studies have shown a connection between tooth decay and heart disease in adults. The bacteria that create decay in teeth also erode the major arteries that supply the heart with oxygen.
Unfortunately, poor dental hygiene is often started in childhood and by the time a person reaches adulthood; the problem isn’t that easy to treat. Here are some scary facts about children and dental hygiene, plus what all you can do now to help see your child isn’t one of the statistics.
1. More than sixteen million children in the U.S. have untreated tooth decay. This makes it the most prevalent of all chronic childhood diseases. That means that over a quarter of children under five, and half between the ages of 12 and 15 suffer from untreated tooth decay.
2. The prevalence of tooth decay in children leads to over 750,000 missed school days a year. The flu does not cause that high rate of absence. This is a lot of time a child needs to make up work or miss out on important learning issues.
3. Chronic tooth decay is even more prevalent than asthma and hay fever, the two next closest conditions causing illness in children. Tooth decay is five times more common than asthma and seven times more common than hay fever. Unlike asthma and hay fever, tooth decay is not lessened in certain climates or during various parts of the year, it is constant.
4. By the age of seven, or the entrance to second grade, two million of the children born each year will have cavities. This is half of the children born each year.
5. Eating too much candy, or other sugared treats, doesn’t seem to be a concern of forty-two percent of children in the 8-13 age categories. Considering that only forty-four percent of all children brush their teeth twice daily, this is part of the overall problem.
1. Clean gums. Even before teeth actually appear, make a habit of wiping your child’s gums with a moist cloth to rid their mouths of bacteria.
2. Only water at bedtime. The sugars in juice and milk can start the process of tooth decay. If your child won’t sleep without a bottle, make it only water.
3. Teach them early. As soon as the first teeth appear, make a habit of cleaning your child’s teeth. Once they can hold the brush themselves, teach them the proper method and length of time necessary for a good job.
4. Brush often. Ideally, teeth should be brushed morning, night and after each meal. Teach children to brush at least twice a day and after any extremely sugary snacks or drinks. Don’t forget to teach proper flossing methods as well to get anything the brush may leave behind.
5. Provide fluoride. Always use approved fluoride-containing toothpaste. Find out if your local water supply contains fluoride and if not, ask your dentist if supplements may be needed.
6. Provide healthy snacks. Rather than relying on sugary or starchy snacks, provide a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables for your child to snack on.
7. Regular dental visits. Children should have their teeth cleaned and checked by a dentist every six months, or at least once a year. Make a point of scheduling these visits at a time when you will remember them.
While following all these things can’t guarantee that your child will never have the need to get a cavity fixed, it will make it a lot less likely to happen. Good dental hygiene is something that can, and should be, developed at a young age so it becomes a habit throughout life. For