Time for a quick quiz on childhood ailments and chronic diseases: what is the most common childhood disease? While most parents would say that obesity, diabetes, or asthma is the most common disease among children around the world, pediatric dentistry services consistently report that tooth decay is rampant among children under the age of 18. About one in every five American children under the age of five has cavities that are not being treated properly, and childrens dentist practices are searching for creative ways to teach kids how to practice good dental hygiene at home.
The rate of untreated tooth decay is also high among children between the ages of five and 18, recent studies show. About one in five school-aged children needs to urgently visit pediatric dentistry services, either for tooth decay or for sports-related tooth injuries. Tooth decay, surprisingly, is about five times as likely to occur than asthma, and four times as likely to occur as obesity. Unfortunately, tooth neglect and decay is more than 20 times as likely to occur as diabetes, childrens dentist practices report.
What concerned parents may not realize is that they should start talking to their children about proper care for teeth and gums at an early age. Children as young as two years old can practice good dental hygiene at home, although they may need a little practice in spitting out toothpaste residue. Parents should use less than a pea-sized amount of toothpaste with children younger than five years old, and the right pediatric dentist should be able to put toddlers at ease during regular office visits.
Children should also use soft-bristled brushes for dental care, childrens dentist practices recommend. Parents should replace children’s toothbrushes every three to four months to prevent bristles from becoming ineffective due to normal wear and tear; quality dental care practices also advise that parents should teach their children how to use floss at an early age. As soon as children have two teeth that touch, they can use dental floss — with parental supervision, of course — to begin proper habits of quality dental care at home.
Older children who participate in sports programs, either at school or in the local community, should take care to wear helmets and mouth guards regularly. In the event of a sports-related injury to teeth or gums, students should immediately visit their dentist. Parents should ensure that they indicate their consent for the school to transport their children to a dentist in case of an unplanned injury during a sporting event. Dental care experts also regularly visit schools to provide dental education and to demonstrate proper care for teeth and gums.
Despite parents’ and schools’ efforts to instill good dental hygiene, about three out of every four American children will have at least one cavity by the time they graduate from high school. Recent technological advances, however, are giving kids the chance to meet with childrens pediatric dentistry experts from their living rooms: dentist and other health care professionals now have the ability to “video chat” with their patients in advance of routine office visits.
State-of-the-art pediatric dental care is also making use of new, non-invasive x-ray technology to speed up the process of diagnosis in cases of chronic gum disease in both children and adults. New high-resolution x-rays can be viewed immediately, bypassing the extended wait times of older x-rays. Dentists now have the chance to see the progression of their patients’ teeth and gums over the course of time. Of course, speedy transfer of newer xrays can also help doctors and childrens dentist practices share information about newer patients.
Approaching dental visits with a positive attitude is key, and children who start their brushing habits out on a positive note tend to have fewer cavities and better long-term results. Good dental hygiene is one of the most important life skills for youngsters, and experts recommend that dental education begin well before kindergarten.