The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), the recognized leader in children’s oral health, continues to emphasize that the way to decrease children’s tooth decay is by visiting a dentist early on. The AAPD recommends that each child should have a dental home by his/her first birthday.

The results from the recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report (http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/pressroom/07newsreleases/oralhealth.htm) show that young children do not receive the proper oral care they need to promote optimal oral health. Tooth decay declined in every other age group, except for children aged two to five years which increased from 24 percent to 28 percent between 1988-1994 and 1999-2004. Tooth decay is the single most common chronic childhood disease, yet 90 percent of all tooth decay is preventable.

The AAPD recommends that parents adopt the following practices to help prevent tooth decay in young children:

  • Year-one dental visit – Dental visits should begin around six months but no later than one year, or with the appearance of a child’s first tooth. The earlier the dental visit, the better the chance of preventing dental problems. Children with healthy teeth chew food easily, learn to speak clearly and smile with confidence.
  • Fluoride use – Young children require fluoride to help developing teeth grow strong, and it helps prevent tooth decay in older children when used on a regular basis. Children who primarily drink bottled water may not be getting the fluoride they need. If your child routinely drinks bottled water, make sure to choose a product that contains fluoride. Talk to your pediatric dentists about your child’s fluoride needs.
  • Healthy eating habits – Parents should ensure their children are eating a balanced diet and limit frequency of snacking which can increase a child’s risk of developing cavities. In order to prevent cavities, parents should limit the child’s number of snacks and the amount of time each child snacks throughout the day.

"Proper preventive care, fluoridation use and a balanced diet are key to the oral and overall health of every child," said AAPD President Dr. Phil H. Hunke, D.D.S., M.S.D. "When kids are exposed to sugar for extended periods, they are at a higher risk of tooth decay. If left untreated, this puts these young children at increased risk for pain and infection, which can lead to missed school, lost sleep and loss of appetite."

For more information about how to keep children’s teeth healthy, visit www.aapd.org.

Copyright 2010 American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry All Rights Reserved.