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The foundation for good, long-term oral health is built in childhood. Yet a new report from the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) suggests early childhood tooth decay has become an epidemic problem that poses a threat to children’s general health.

St. Joseph, Michigan, dentist Dr. Sven Erickson understands the links between your oral health and your systemic health, and he is dedicated to providing parents and kids with the tools they need to establish a quality dental hygiene routine and maintain their oral health. To schedule your next dental checkup and teeth cleaning, please call Modern Dentistry Associates at 269-264-4388.

In its first ever State of Little Teeth Report, the AAPD calls tooth decay among young children an “epidemic” and says early childhood caries (ECC) is the most common chronic early childhood disease in the United States. ECC is an aggressive form of tooth decay that can result in the rapid onset of cavities as well as infections of teeth pulp that require emergency medical treatment. For comparison’s sake, the AAPD states that ECC is five times more common than asthma among children.

Nearly one-third of children between the ages of 2 and 5 in the United States suffer from tooth decay, according to the AAPD report. Approximately 60 percent of all U.S. children will have had at least one cavity by age 5, the AAPD estimates.

The most common dental health problems, including tooth decay and periodontal disease, are generally preventable with an oral hygiene routine that includes brushing your teeth at least twice daily with fluoride toothpaste and a soft-bristled toothbrush, flossing at least once daily after brushing, and visiting your dentist once every six months for a thorough exam and professional teeth cleaning. In studying the causes of increasing tooth decay among young children, the AAPD arrived at a number of conclusions:

  1. There is a gap between parental knowledge and action; for example, 78 percent of parents say they know that regular juice consumption can be damaging to children’s teeth, yet 34 percent of parents say they frequently serve juice to their children

  2. Early dental visits are strongly recommended by organizations including the AAPD and American Dental Association (ADA), yet they are rarely made; children should see a dentist around the eruption of the first tooth, but many parents wait until children are 2 or 3, which increases the likelihood of later restorative treatment, according to the report

  3. Few dentists offer children’s dentistry services

Your oral health directly affects your overall health, and the State of Little Teeth Report outlines several benefits of early childhood dental visits, including:

  1. Better dental health

  2. The establishment of a quality preventive care routine

  3. Dental health education for parents and children

  4. Improved systemic health

  5. Lower future healthcare costs

If you or your child is due for a dental checkup and teeth cleaning, please contact Modern Dentistry Associates today. Dr. Erickson welcomes families from the greater St. Joseph, Niles and Kalamazoo areas, and throughout southwest Michigan.

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