Facts About Tooth Decay
Tooth decay facts
Did you know that pediatric dental disease, also referred to as childhood tooth decay, is the #1 chronic childhood illness? When left untreated, childhood tooth decay can have devastating consequences that extend beyond the dental chair. Rampant decay can negatively impact a child’s overall quality of life, inhibit their cognitive and social development and compromise their growth, function and self esteem.
- Pediatric dental disease is 5 times more common than asthma and 7 times more common than hay fever.
- Left untreated, pediatric dental disease can lead to malnourishment, bacterial infections, required emergency surgery and even death.
- Pain and infection caused by tooth decay can lead to problems in eating, speaking and learning.
- Dental disease has been linked to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, pneumonia, poor pregnancy outcomes and dementia.
A Global Problem
Oral health services in many countries is limited.
- Dental decay is the most common childhood disease worldwide.
- Tooth decay is still a major problem in most industrialized countries, affecting 60-90% of schoolchildren and a majority of adults.
- Access to oral health services in developing countries is limited, and teeth are often left untreated or are extracted due to pain.
- Dental disease is the fourth most expensive disease to treat in most industrialized countries.
The good news? Tooth decay is preventable!
Did You Know?
Baby teeth play an important role in speech development, a child’s appearance and facial structure, nutrition and ensuring that permanent teeth erupt in their normal positions. Although baby teeth are eventually replaced with permanent teeth, it is essential to keep them healthy. Decay and infection in baby teeth can cause damage to developing permanent teeth.
A few tips from the Tooth Fairy:
- Parents and caregivers can share tooth decay causing bacteria when they clean their child’s pacifier or bottle nipple by placing it in their mouths or when they share a child’s food and drink. Clean bottle nipples and pacifiers in warm, soapy water and avoid sharing food and drinks with your children.
- Beginning at birth, clean infant gums with a damp cloth or soft toothbrush and warm water after each feeding and check your child’s gums/teeth daily.
- Encourage children to drink water, not juice, in between feedings and never put a bottle or sippy cup in the crib with anything but water.
- Children learn by example, brush and floss your teeth with them to encourage good oral health habits.
- Check out products with xylitol as an alternative to sugar-laden sweets!
- Have your child create a calendar to track good oral health practices. Post the calendar in the bathroom and reward children with a gold star or happy face for each day of great oral care! Help get your child excited about their next dental visit by bringing the calendar with you to show the dentist.
- Brush and floss twice a day. If instructed by your dentist, introduce a fluoride rinse to offer extra protection for children ages six or older.
Make Dental Visits Fun
- Regular dental visits will enable your child to develop a sense of familiarity and comfort with the dental team and practice as well as provide vital preventive care necessary for a healthy smile.
- Reading can have a soothing and calming effect on your child. Bring their favorite book to read to them during their dental appointment.
- Let your child wear a costume on their dental visit. This special treat can help them view going to the dentist as a fun activity.
- Allow your child to bring their favorite toy or blanket with them on their dental visit to give them an added sense of security and comfort.