silent epidemic affecting our youth

A Silent Epidemic Affecting our Youth

admin_lde Pediatric Dentistry

silent epidemic affecting our youthErie, Harborcreek and Millcreek, PA

If we were to ask you what the most prevalent disease is among children in the U.S., which would be your best answer? Asthma? Diabetes? Obesity? Well, the answer may surprise you.

According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), the number one chronic illness among children in the U.S. is tooth decay or cavities. Many believe that tooth decay is a right of passage for children, something that is inevitable and unavoidable. However, this is certainly not the case. Tooth decay in any form has its repercussions on a child, many of which are unknown.

A startling 40% of children develop tooth decay by the time they are in kindergarten! If left untreated, we know that tooth decay can result in a visit to the emergency room, malnourishment, anemia, and even life-threatening secondary infections. Overall health issues that may be attributed to tooth decay include heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and pulmonary disease. But, the ramifications of this silent epidemic go beyond health implications. It may also affect a child’s social development including their self-esteem, or their overall quality of life. 

That is not all. Children with tooth decay may end up dealing with a poor ability to eat, which may also affect their sleeping habits and ability to concentrate. In turn, this could make their academics suffer.

The good news is that tooth decay can be preventable with good oral hygiene and regular trips to the dentist for cleanings and exams. As a parent or caregiver, it is important to model good oral hygiene habits for your child, especially since children learn by example. Children as young as infancy need oral care. Here are some tips for you to help ensure your child maintains good oral health.

Infants need their gums gently wiped clean after every feeding by using a soft, moist cloth. A visit to the dentist should be in order once your child’s first tooth erupts or by his or her first birthday.

Toddlers need their teeth brushed twice a day using an age-approved toothpaste. Talk to your Erie family dentist for recommendations on additional preventive measures that can be taken. Also, avoid allowing your child to go to bed with a sippy cup or bottle, which otherwise could cause rampant tooth decay. It’s best to give your child water, instead of juice, throughout the day.

Children should brush their teeth twice a day, and begin flossing once their teeth form contacts. Be sure to supervise your child while he or she brushes because children typically do not develop the dexterity to brush properly until about the age of eight. 

Regardless of age, everyone should see his or her family dentist in Erie for checkups at least twice per year. During these visits, we can thoroughly clean your child’s teeth and gums, and address any oral health concerns while they are small, instead of waiting until extensive decay develops that results in an emergency visit.

Family Dentistry in Erie

If you would like to learn more about oral care for your child, please contact Laser Dentistry of Erie by calling (814) 825-2615 to schedule a consultation. We welcome patients of all ages from Erie and the surrounding communities.