Tooth Decay in Younger Kids Is Getting Worse

   Whether it’s warming up to a cup of hot chocolate & cookies or savoring a candy cane, there are a lot of holiday treats to tempt children this time of year. You may want to keep an eye on just how much your kids are snacking. A recent study shows that the number of cavities in baby teeth is up considerably.* In fact, it’s worse than it’s been since the 1960s. A pediatric dentists explains what’s behind this troubling trend.
    After signs of tooth decay in four of her baby teeth and a cavity already in one of her permanent teeth, 8 year old Catherine Peterson is learning some hard lessons about dental care.
   “You should brush your teeth twice a day, and you should always rinse with mouthwash,” says Peterson.
   That’s good advice, but doctors say it might not be enough to slow down the rising rate of cavities in kids. A recent study shows that more than one out of four kids now has at least one cavity in their baby teeth.* That’s the highest rate in 40 years.* Why?
   “Well, I think it’s largely diet. We can blame the increase in sugar intake and the decrease in milk intake,” says Paul Casamassimo, DDS, Chief of Dentistry at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.
   Dr. Casamassimo says just as much as what they eat, kids are being impacted by what they drink. Soda and drinks labeled as juices are loaded with sugar and kids are drinking more of them. Even when they do drink water, many parents are opting for pure bottled water, so kids are missing out on the fluoride they get from the tap.
   “People are worried about what’s in their water system, but, in fact, fluoride is still considered the number one preventative mechanism that we have against tooth decay,” says Casamassimo.
   Casamassimo says trading soda and juice for milk and tap water can help keep baby teeth strong, and can help kids form good habits long after they’re gone.
   The study about the rising number of cavities in baby teeth was done by the NationalCenter for Health Statistics. 
   Watch this video report at
*..Tooth Decay Among Preschool Children on the Rise, NationalCenter for Health Statistics, Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, April 2007, Bruce Dye, lead author.